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Tarocchi

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An Introduction to the many games played with tarot cards
by
Philebus
Copyright Jerry Neill Furr 2009 - Please see the appendices for permissions to
reproduce the material in this book
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Contents
0.1 About this book 5
0.2 About these games 5
0.3 About the inter-net 6
1.1 Preface 7
1.2 Will the Real Tarot Please Stand Up 9
1.3 The Faces, Terms, and Conventions of Tarot 15
The Games Part I
2.01 Scarto 25
2.02 Four Handed Tarocchi 27
2.03 Baronetti 29
2.04 Consiglio 31
2.05 Mitigati 33
2.06 Chambery for Five 37
2.07 Droggn 41
2.08 Paritita 45
2.09 Partitia for Three 51
2.10 Grosstarock 55
The Games Part II
3.1.1 Jeu de Tarot 63
3.2 Jeu de Tarot for Six 67
3.3.1 La Decouverte 69
3.3.2 La Tirette 70
3.3.3 Tarot with a Dummy 71
The Games Part III
4.1.1 Troccas 75
4.2 Troggu 81
The Games Part IV
5.01 Tapp 87
5.02 Zwanzig-Rufen 93
5.03 Neunzehner-Rufen 97
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5.04 Konig-Rufen 103
5.05 Straw Man Tarock 109
5.06 Husarln 113
5.07 Cego 117
5.08 Czech Taroky 121
5.09 Slovenian Tarock 125
5.10 Point Tarock 133
The Games Part V
6.1 Hungarian Tarokk 141
6.2 Emperor Tarokk 149
6.3 Royal Tarokk 157
The Games Part VI
7.1 Sicilian Tarocchi 173
7.2.0 Tarocchi Bolognese 177
7.2.1 Ottocento 183
7.2.2 Terziglio 185
7.2.3 Millone 187
7.2.4 Mattazza 188
7.3 Minchiate 191
Appendices
I Shopping for Cards 199
II Glossary 207
III Creating and Changing Tarot Games 215
IV Bibliography and Inter-net References 221
V Availability of this text and permissions 225
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0.1 About this book
Although there is new material and some revised presentation in this
edition of Tarocchi, I do not consider it a second edition but rather the
first edition of the text that Im happy with.
As you read on, you will discover that tarot cards were created for
playing card games, that the trump designs, rather than being occult,
were actually Christian in origin. You will also find that these games are
still played throughout much of continental Europe.
This project began life and has continued as a project for my sister
and her family, we grew up playing card games such as whist and now
she wants to continue that with her family. I also want to see my niece,
Eden, grow up knowing my favourite games. In doing so, I hope to help
spread the word about this wonderful family of games and help change
the common perception of this remarkable pack of cards.
It was thanks to my good friend Bindi and her two girls, Rebecca and
Josie that this developed from being only a family orientated project,
they encouraged me to create something with a much broader scope in
a more professional manner. Before I knew it, I had purchased a new
web domain and taken on the task of promoting the games to English
speakers. Of course, I am far from the first to do so, nor am I the best
qualified to do so, and it can only be as part of an effort made with
others that this goal can be achieved.
0.2 About these games
The selection of games presented was decided in part by preference and
in large part, on availability though this has improved after purchasing
more texts. For the most part, I have selected games that are currently
in play. However, there are a few included here that are either on the
brink of dying out or have disappeared and that I felt merited a revival.
Although there are now many tarot games that have been translated into
English, the books in which they appear are academic, very costly and
largely unheard of. There is a small selection available on the internet
but only as part of a large web site dedicated to all card games. One
thing that all these editions of the rules have in common is the frequent
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use of original language terms and very variable conventions. It is a
good thing that these are preserved but sadly they also present an
obstacle to people discovering and learning them. Early in this project,
I made the decision to present the games with Anglicised terms and with
some conventions standardised between games. This way, new players
will be reading a familiar language throughout and will see much in
common between games that might otherwise have been obscured.
Players should be able to learn new games based upon their experience
of others in that family, trying them all out until they find exactly the
right ones for themselves.
0.3 About the internet
The internet is an important part of this project, it is thanks to this new
medium that it is available at all. The chances are that you first found it
on the associated web-site www.tarocchino.com where it can be read
on-line or downloaded with a number of support documents. I have also
used the site to present reviews of the various tarot packs suitable for
card play, along with links to those shops where you can buy them. You
will also find a forum there, so that you can ask any questions, discuss
the games with other players and even arrange meetings.
For those who prefer their books in print, I shall be making this availa-
ble through a print on demand service but with a not for profit price.
You shall only be paying for the printing service and not me. This is a
non-commercial project. Of course, the pdf file should be suitable for
printing through a local service if you prefer that and the cover art shall
also be included in the folder with it.
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1.1 Preface
Human nature is such that there exist in the world a multitude of
neglected facts. Discarded, forgotten, or perhaps misunderstood, they
gather in little read volumes, undiscovered manuscripts, or shady cor-
ners of academics minds. Quite often they are overlooked in favour of
more prosaic or simply appealing ideas, and so it is with tarot. The facts
of their origin and purpose are scattered throughout the world in dusty
texts, obscure internet sites and historic sources. All these facts have
been neglected in favour of another story of a repository of ancient
occult knowledge, and of divining the mysteries of the future.
The truth that all these neglected facts tell us, is that this intriguing pack
of cards was created for playing games. To modern eyes, the odd
designs seem mysterious, their reference obscured by layers of history
and changing cultures. Perhaps it is not too hard to imagine how people
have managed to read fantastical ideas into them, though it is hard to
forgive those who created the myths. Their writings are riddled with
shoddy work, smart rhetoric, sly misrepresentation, and wilful deceit.
This short book is aimed squarely at those who enjoy playing cards and
are curious to learn about this wonderful family of games, ignored by
the English speaking world in favour of the occult tarot. It may surprise
you to learn that tarot games have been hugely popular in Europe and
are still played across the continent. Many of the card games more
familiar to us have tarot as an ancestor it is tarot cards that gave us
trumps in card games and even the word trump. So far, the only
published collections of tarot games in English have been academic in
nature and in price.
I have tried to collect most of the games still being played, along with a
couple that seem to have died out and present them here in an accessible
format and language, so that even a beginner can step straight in and
start playing very quickly. In doing so, I have committed what many
card players will consider cardinal sins and standardised some of the
terminology and methods of play employed in different countries,
sometimes picking and choosing from optional rules and variations,
making it easier for you to move from one game to another. This will
mean that the games, as presented here, will not be 100% as they are
played in their native countries. Some may say that these games are not
really authentic because of it. However, the changes are not too great
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and I considered them a small price to achieve this books goal, which
is to provide an introductory text for English speaking players to learn
games with tarot cards. Perhaps the important thing to note is that the
changes in no way are dumbing down the games, just popularising
them.
After a brief look at the cards history and notoriety, youll find a
beginners guide to card games and terms - if you come across a term in
any of the rules that you dont recognize, you should find it listed and
explained here. I have also tried to list the games with respect to their
difficulty and type, beginning with games that serve as excellent intro-
ductions, as well as being worth-while in their own right. If you are new
to tarot games, then I do recommend playing them in the order present-
ed - as you progress through the book, the games can become very
complex.
For very detailed accounts of card games, along with their native
terminology and histories, then I can recommend John McLeods web
site www.pagat.com which is an amazing resource for card games of all
kinds - and has been a source for some of the games presented here. For
anyone interested in detailed histories of the games and how they have
developed over the centuries, then they should look for Michael
Dummetts The Game of Tarot published by Duckworth in 1980. This
hard to find text has been of central importance to writing this text and
was my own introduction to tarot as a game. As this project took shape
I obtained a copy of the two volume work A History of the Games
Played with the Tarot Pack by Michael Dummett and John McLeod.
This is a costly title but includes a larger selection of games, both past
and present, and played a large part in the expansion of this text from its
original form. You should also visit www.trionfi.com which is a site
dedicated to the history of tarot and one you could lose yourself in for
many happy hours.
The cards used to play these games were once quite difficult to obtain
but, thanks to the internet, they are now more widely available. You can
find a selection of suppliers listed in the appendix.
Whatever your gaming interest, be it in deep strategy, in gambling, or
simply in good social entertainment, you will find a game here to fit
your needs you may even turn your back on the humble 52 card pack
altogether.
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1.2 Will The Real Tarot Please Stand Up...
Tarot cards have had a troubled history over the last two-hundred years,
they have gone from being one of the most popular card games in
Europe to being recognized throughout the English speaking world as
essentially occult objects. Popular myth is recounted in countless texts
on the bookshelves, in newspapers, magazines, film, Television, and
across the internet. The truth is, as has always been the case, having a
hard time.
I dont intend this to be a history book, there are far more knowledgea-
ble people who have already written exhaustively about the history of
tarot. However, I do feel the need to say something about the cards and
their confused identity. There are a variety of muddled and conflicting
perceptions, interests, and uses which need untangling.
So, where do tarot cards come from?
Lets begin at the beginning in Europe...
Playing cards are first seen in Europe in the mid 14th century. They are
thought to have descended from the Far East, ultimately from Chinese
money games. Coming to us from the Malmuks, our earliest cards are
distinctly Islamic in appearance and feature, as our modern packs, 52
cards made up from 4 suits, each with 10 pip cards and 3 court cards.
The suit symbols were Cups, Coins, Scimitars, and Polo Sticks. Islam
(by most interpretations) does not allow the depiction of living things,
so the court cards were represented by abstract designs and calligraphy.
Polo was not played in Europe at that time, so Polo Sticks became
Batons, the court cards were then represented with the figures of a King,
a Rider, and a Footman. These changes created what we now call the
Latin suits. Cards like these are still used today in countries such as Italy
and Spain.
The Queen appears to have been independently invented on more than
one occasion and may even have existed in non-Islamic predecessors to
our cards. It Italy there was an early pack that featured 6 court cards in
each suit, being a male and a female of each rank. Most of these extra
cards were dropped but retaining the Queen in a 56 card pack, that for a
time may have been a regional standard. It was to this pack that in the
early to mid 15th century, a fifth suit of picture cards was added. These
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picture cards would appear to have taken as their theme a Christian
triumph procession, hence their early name of trionfi, meaning triumphs
and from which we get our word trump. It was the invention of tarot that
marked the wider introduction of trumps in card games, although again,
trumps seem to have been invented independently on more than one
occasion. And this is what they were invented for, card games, games
that have grown into a large and varied family, spread throughout much
of continental Europe and that continues to be played to this day.
As Ive mentioned, the original name for tarot was trionfi but this was
soon changed to tarocchi, probably to save confusion with another game
of triumphs that was becoming popular. Perhaps the most plausible
origin of this new name is the term tarochus, meaning to play the fool,
The Fool having an important and unique role in the games. As the cards
spread through Europe, this name was often truncated to Tarock, while
the French gave us the name that we have inherited, Tarot.
Given the modern perception of tarot cards, it may seem hard to accept
this. You are very likely to have read about the church suppressing tarot
cards, and that they had to be used in secret because of their heretical
images. However, this is not the case. Tarot games spread across the
continent, being played openly, without opposition by the church all
through the counter-reformation. The only real exception to this is in
Spain, where it is important to note that the opposition was not from a
perception that the images were somehow un-Christian, but precisely
because they were Christian. The authorities there felt that it was
inappropriate to use such images in a card game, something they felt
trivialized or disrespected the sacred. We have good reason then, to go
back and question our initial thoughts. It might help to take a closer look
at two cards that have been widely misunderstood.
The Female Pope, often renamed The High Priestess by modern occult-
ists, is an excellent example. This must surely be heretical. But no, we
are looking at the cards through modern eyes, with a vision coloured by
popular myth. If we are to understand what the images represent, then
we must look at them in the context of their origin Renaissance Italy.
If we look at the religious art of that time and place, we find that The
Female Pope was an established figure in Christian art, being used to
symbolize such things as The New Covenant and the Virtue of Faith.
There was no heresy, which explains why there was no opposition.
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Another card that is often cited as having esoteric meaning is The
Hanged Man, perhaps because it is difficult to see just what overt and
obvious meaning it could ever have had. What are we to make of a man
suspended by one foot, often holding money bags? Some have suggest-
ed it be Judas, though he would have hung himself by the neck, others
have suggested it to be the Virtue of Prudence, indeed, the list of
offerings is long and varied. However if we again look at the card in
context we find a different story and no mystery at all. The title of
Hanged man was given to the card by French card makers but we know
from written sources that in Italy it was called The Traitor and little
wonder, as this is how Italians used to execute traitors, suspended by
one foot and left to die rather slowly and publicly. As for the money
bags, we can find an explanation from another practice of the time, that
of Shame Pictures. It was the practice to shame those who betrayed a
trust by employing an artist to draw that persons likeness hung as a
traitor, which would then be publicly displayed often this was done in
the case of bad debtors, hence we can suppose the money bags.
The beginning of the 18th century saw a big change in tarot in many
countries. At this time, German card makers began to produce French
suited tarot cards that also gave up the traditional trumps in favour of a
number of themes, such as animals or local scenes. This offered two
advantages. The first was economic. Regular French suited playing
cards had existed since the 15th century and had quickly become the
dominant pattern in Europe. While the Latin suits required costly wood
blocks and hand colouring, which was labour intensive, the French suits
required only a simple stencil to reproduce the pips, making production
much cheaper. Additionally, by dropping the traditional trumps, the
card makers could do more to show off their skills, as well as create
cards with themes that might appeal more to their customers. This new
pattern of Tarot cards has now become the dominant form for game play.
Tarots occult associations do not arise until the end of the 18th century
when a Parisian occultist, Antoine Court de Gebelin, published an
article in his encyclopaedia declaring that the cards were of Ancient
Egyptian origin, brought to us by Gypsies and codifying the lost knowl-
edge of their priests. He did not present any evidence for his claims but
he made them at a time when Egyptomania was popular and so his story
captured the public imagination and caught on. He also published the
first account of how the cards were to be used for divination. During the
following 100 years, various French occultists took up the ideas of an
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occult origin and divinatory use and built upon them, developing still
more elaborate myths. Until the end of the 19th century, these ideas
were limited to just France but then a small number of British occultists
began to import the cards and translate the French occultist writings
about them. In the English speaking world, the cards seemed new and
exotic, and the occultist accounts of the cards were the only ones known.
During the next century, the myth of tarot gradually established itself in
the public psyche, and towards the end of the 20th century, a whole
industry built around tarot reading began to establish itself and to spread
back across Europe.
Since occultism first laid claim to tarot, there has been a growing
tendency to redesign the cards to better fit occult beliefs. Thanks to this,
there is a broad division between types of tarot cards. Those of the
occult and those used to play games. To be honest, those cards designed
by occultists and for fortune telling are ill suited to game play and so
any concerns you may have about them need not affect our interests here.
Although there have been works of serious history about both the cards
and the games published in English since 1980, they have tended to be
of limited availability and of high cost. However, in recent years, thanks
in large part to the internet, the history and the games are at last getting
through to the English speaking public. People are at last discovering
the games they have been missing. After all, something that has been
played for nearly 600 years, and spread through a continent must have
something good going for it!
***
Well, we know from history that tarot cards were created for playing
card games. There really is no substantial doubt about that. While we
cannot be certain as to what, if anything, the trump designs represented,
we do know that the accounts given by the occultists dont stand up to
examination. The questions then, are: Do we declare that occultists
should have nothing to do with tarot? Are they simply wrong to think
the cards represent anything spiritual? Should the cards only be seen as
instruments of play? Now, I have a special interest here I think that the
occult tarot has thrived at the expense of the gamers tarot - but need it
be so? Can the occult tarot and the gamers tarot co-exist?
I think that we gamers have to make some concessions to the modern
occultists. History may not give them a claim to the cards but perhaps
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use and modern design may give them an equal claim. Words and
symbols have meanings because of the way that we use them and the
way that we use them often changes over time. Consider the word nice.
These days we use the word in a complimentary fashion - but it was not
always so. When Jane Austins characters refer to someone as nice
they dont intend a compliment, they intend an insult, they used the
word to indicate that someone was plain, simple and perhaps a dullard.
Because, historically, the word had a different meaning, does not tell us
that we are using it incorrectly today. Nor, when we read Jane Austin
today, do we read her use of the word nice to be a compliment -
because we read the word in the context of when it was written. There
is no metaphysical connection between the word nice and some
abstract thing simpleton that determines its meaning, there is only the
way that we use the word. Now, occultists use tarot cards to symbolize
elements of their spiritual and magical beliefs, so in the context of
occultism, they have those meanings.
To further strengthen this position, we can take into account that occult-
ists usually use rectified packs. We can question that they are really
rectifying anything, that is a matter of history and can be debated with
reference to evidence, but we cannot deny that these are new designs
created with the intent that they contain occult symbolism. While I find
many of the modern designs to be rather dreadful, it would be churlish
for anyone to deny that a great many of them are beautiful and deserve
to be called art. I can say that as an atheist and sceptic because as such,
I can still see the beauty in more familiar religious art, whether it be by
Mozart or Leonardo da Vinci. In fact, I have a growing collection of
occult tarot packs chosen for their art.
This is perhaps more of a concession than many card players and
sceptics would wish to make and yet, there is still more to say on the
matter we must step back a moment and make sure that I have not
been tilting at windmills all along. There are giants out there but we
need to make clear who they are. I would level attacks against those
occultists who have tried to present an account of history that is simply
false, people for whom the occult really has been about revealing hidden
knowledge in its traditional sense - these are some of the giants and they
do still exist. They do not represent all occultists, over the last quarter
of a century some have begun to look upon religions, spiritual beliefs
and tarot cards, with almost post-modernist eyes. These people are
perhaps more relativist in their outlook and choose a tarot pack, not
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according to how well it reflects a system of occult belief they accept as
true, but according to its appeal to them personally and how it reflects
their view and experience of the world. The people of this new trend do
not recognize themselves in the likes of the old school occultists - and
those who pursue their interest in tarot to any degree, often know and
accept the cards history as a game. For these occult tarotists, the new
designs of occult tarot cards are no longer understood as rectified
designs but as personal ones. What I do not know is what proportion of
occult tarot users these people represent.
However, there is still another giant to tilt against and that is public
perception. The old occultist myths have become a part of the public
consciousness, and have so much appeal within it that breaking the
myth is far harder than it should be. You can explain the truth about
their history and take out a pack of cards designed without any occult
reference, only to find that people will still say that they are uncomfort-
able with playing a game with them I have had this response even with
the French suited cards! It is this general public perception that is my
principle target.
If there is blame to be laid anywhere for this public perception, I do not
lay it all with the modern tarot reader. Rather, and now I am venturing
more deeply into personal opinion, I tend to blame the popular media.
Be they TV producers, publishers, magazines, or newspapers - they can
be seen, everyday, to put the story they think will sell above any
responsibility to educate or to simply be honest. Of course, we are
talking about businesses, they exist to make money for their owners, for
their shareholders - but I do not believe that this excuses anyone from
basic moral responsibilities.
What my argument does not concede is that people learn anything about
the world from studying the cards. Nor do I concede that by reading
the cards people can divine anything about the future. I do not think that
they can do either, I am a sceptic and an atheist but these are other
debates for other books and do not concern us any further here. What
this does all mean is that the occultists tarot and the gamers tarot are
in large part distinct and can co-exist, that the grounds for accord
between us are there if we two sides are willing to meet in the middle -
and play a nice game of cards.
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1.3 The Faces, Terms, and Conventions of Tarot
Many people coming to card games for the first time are unfamiliar with
the once commonplace terms and conventions of play. Tarot shares
much with regular card games but has a few little quirks of its own and
so in this section Ill introduce you to the cards and game-play in
general. If you are experienced with card games, in particular, trick-
taking games, then you may just want to skim this part of the book for
anything you dont recognize and then move on to the games themselves.
In my experience, many of you who do play card games may have most
of your experience in gambling games and in particular, Poker. I have
never been a great fan of gambling but if that is your thing, then you will
find that tarot offers something more sophisticated for you like most
card games, tarot games were formulated with gambling in mind.
However, you will find a very different method of play. In Poker and
the rest of its ilk, there is a heavy emphasis on chance. You can help
your chances if you have a good head for maths and enjoy a game of
bluff but all of this reduces the social element and much of the excite-
ment of the game rests on the stakes on the table. Tarot doesnt require
much of a stake to keep it interesting or, indeed, any stake at all. You
will find here a perfect blend of chance and strategy.
For those of you who have played trick taking games, such as whist,
solo, skat, or bridge, you will find much that is familiar here. Anyone
who has played whist or solo and been disappointed with bridge will be
in their element. I disliked bridge the day I learned it, simply because it
didnt seem much fun - with too much emphasis on the bidding and not
enough on playing the hand for my taste. Tarot, like solo or bid whist,
has a bidding round in most games but it is simple and quick, allowing
a greater social dimension to the game.
Trick Games & Point-Trick Games
In a trick taking game, players are dealt a hand of cards with the first to
play decided either by whom is next to Dealer or by a round of bidding.
This person will lead to the trick by playing a card face up in the middle
of the table. Each player in turn will then have to follow suit by playing
a card of the suit led. The highest card played will win the trick and
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those cards will go into that players trick pile, this player shall also lead
to the next trick. The person, or team, that has the highest number of
tricks will win the game. In many of these games there will be a suit of
trumps. For games with a regular pack, that suit is chosen either at
random by cutting the pack, or perhaps by bidding. The best known
trick games in the English speaking world are probably whist and bridge.
Tarot games are an example of point-trick games. These differ from
trick games in that it is not the number of tricks taken that decides the
winner. In these games, different cards carry different point values and
so it is the number of card points in your tricks that will win or lose you
the game.
The Cards
If you were to see a game of tarot being played today, there is a good
chance that you would not recognise it as such.
The cards that we think of as tarot tend to be the Italian design trumps
and suits, these are the cards that occultists have adopted not to
mention, heavily redesigned for their practices. They contain four
regular suits of swords, batons, cups, and coins. Each of these suits
contains 10 pip cards and four court cards: King, Queen, Cavalier, and
Valet. There is then a suit of trump cards numbered 1 to 21 and featuring
a range of medieval Christian figures. Finally, there is an un-numbered
card called the Fool.
While these cards are still used in Italy, Sicily, and parts of Switzerland,
the rest of Europe uses what is sometimes called the German pattern.
This has the more familiar French suits of Spades, Clubs, Hearts, and
Diamonds. The trumps in these packs are usually split top and bottom
and show simple rural or domestic scenes, while the Fool, still un-
numbered, features a musician. Of course there are many novel designs
available, sporting themes such as French national dress, or Asterix
comics. Another variation is in the number of cards. Many central
European games are played with a reduced pack, omitting some of the
pip cards. The most common packs of this kind have just 54 cards and
are usually known as tarocks, though they can use as few as just 40 cards.
Most tarot games can be played with cards of either kind if you buy a
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78 card pack, you can always remove unwanted pip cards for those
games that play with shorter packs. However, there are some games that
require very special packs: the Bolognese tarocchi, the Sicilian tarocchi,
and Minchiate. Sadly, Minchiate died out in the 1930s but you can still
find reproduction packs available from time to time, I have included the
rules here because it really is an extraordinary game, well worth a
revival. The cards for the other two games can be purchased easily via
the internet.
Card Names and Functions
Suits: A suit is a sub-set of a pack of cards sharing a theme. In
traditional playing cards there are four suits. The earliest suits in Europe
are the Italian ones of Swords, Batons, Cups, and Coins. The popular
French suits are Spades, Clubs, Hearts, and Diamonds. Other nations
have also experimented with suit designs. In Germany, though mostly
just in the South these days, there are Leaves, Acorns, Hearts, and Bells.
The Swiss have the Jass pack using Shields, Acorns, Bells, and Roses.
Black Suits: These are the Spades and Clubs. Their equivalents in other
patterns are Swords and Batons, Leaves and Acorns, Shields and
Acorns. Swords and Batons are sometimes called Long Suits but this
term usually has a different meaning, so Ill stick to calling them Black
Suits.
Red Suits: These are the Hearts and Diamonds. Their equivalents in
other patterns are Cups and Coins, Hearts and Bells, Roses and Bells.
They are sometimes called the Round Suits but for continuity, Ill stick
to Red Suits.
Trumps: These are the fifth suit of cards unique to tarot, when played
they beat any card of the other suits.
The Fool: Also unique to tarot but not originally a trump. This card is
often called the Excuse or some derivative thereof and can be played
at any time to avoid playing a card that the rules would otherwise
require be played, hence the name. However, there are many games,
mostly central European, in which this card is used not as an excuse, but
as the highest trump.
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If, as an excuse, it is led to a trick, then the suit for other players to
follow is set by the second player, who may play any card. Usually, the
only time that the Fool, when used as an excuse, can be won is when a
slam is being played, that is when a player wins all the tricks in a game.
Should the Fool be played to a trick which is won by an opposing player
(which may not happen if playing a game in partnerships), then the
common convention is for the Fool to be placed face up next to its
player until the end of the hand out. An empty card is then given to the
tricks winner from the players trick pile in exchange for the Fool
though this may be a counting card if there is no alternative. However,
if no tricks were won, then there is nothing to give in exchange and so
the Fool is surrendered.
The Pagat: This is the 1 of trumps, the hardest to keep from losing and
because of this it carries a high point value. There is often a special
bonus for winning the last trick with the Pagat called the Pagat Ultimo.
The Mond: This is the 21 of trumps it is the World card. It is worth
noting that in some Italian games, the Angel (usually numbered 20)
ranks as highest trump instead.
The Honours: These cards are also called the Bouts or Oudlers in the
French game, the Trull in some others. They are the Fool, the Pagat, and
the Mond. They are always among the highest scoring cards in the game.
In some Italian games, the Angel often replaces the Mond as both the
highest trump and honour.
The Birds: Some countries, where the French suited cards are used,
have the tradition of naming the four lowest trumps as birds. The Pagat
was sometimes called the Sparrow, the II is called the Owl or Eagle Owl,
the III is called the Cockatoo, Pelican or Canary, and the IV is called the
Marabou (an African Stork), or Bearded Vulture.
Court Cards: There are four court cards in each of the four plain suits,
they are named and ranked King, Queen, Cavalier (a rider / horseman),
and Valet. Of course, different nations have different names for some of
them and their cards will have indices for those names for example,
French Kings will have an R for Roi. Their pictures make clear their
ranks however, and I shall abbreviate them K, Q, C, V.
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Pip Cards: These are the cards numbered 1-10 in the regular suits.
Some of these cards may be omitted in some games, usually to make a
54 card pack. They are sometimes called spot cards but I shall call
them pips.
Ace: This is the pip card numbered 1 in a regular suit and usually
abbreviated to A.
Deuce: This is the pip card numbered 2 in a regular suit.
Rationalized Ranking: All the regular suits rank K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8,
7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Irrational Ranking: This is something unfamiliar to most people in
English speaking countries but quite common in continental Europe.
The black suits rank normally but the red suits rank:
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
It seems like an odd quirk but it is easy enough to get used to. As the pip
cards are of low value, it tends to make little practical difference.
Singleton: If you have just one card of a suit, it is called a singleton.
Doubleton: If you have just two cards of a suit, they are called a
doubleton.
Short Suit: If you have only a small number of cards in a given suit, it
is called a short suit.
Long Suit: If you have a large number of cards in a given suit, it is
called a long suit.
Void Suit: If you have no cards of a given suit, it is called a void suit.
Empty Card: This is any card that only carries 1 point or less.
Counting Cards: Any cards that carry a value of 2 or more points.
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Terms and Conventions of Play
The Name of the Game: Although the family of games is often referred
to as tarot, only the French call it that. In Italy, where the cards were
invented, it is called tarocchi. There are other names throughout the
world though, such as: tarock, tarokk, taroky, troccas, ottocento, and
cego.
Card Points and Game Points: Card points are those points from the
cards won in your trick pile, it is these points that count towards winning.
Game points, on the other hand, are the points that you win from other
players, these may be affected by the number of card points that you win
and, for gamblers, translate to money.
Order of Play: Tarot, like a number of European games, is played
counter-clockwise.
Dealer and the Deal: The first Dealer is usually chosen at random,
sometimes by cutting the cards, after that, the deal moves to the right.
Dealer shuffles and Dealers left cuts the cards, then Dealer hands out
the cards deals them to the players starting with his/her right.
Packets: In most tarot games, cards are not dealt singly but 2 or more
cards at a time - these are called packets.
Eldest: This is the player to Dealers right, sometimes known as fore-
hand.
Cutting the Cards: With the pack on the table, separate it into two or
three piles and re-stack them in a different order. Sometimes, cutting the
cards is not done as a part of shuffling but to randomly reveal a card -
in this case, part of the pack is lifted and the card revealed in the lifted
part is selected. This may be done to select first Dealer, partners, or, in
non-tarot games, this is sometimes done to select a trump suit.
Marias Rule: You probably wont find this in many rule books, it was
a rule given to me by an old friend from Spain but is not uncommon.
Her rule is that the cards should not be shuffled between hands - only
cut. The reasoning was that we got more interesting hands that way.
And so we did! However, be warned that this is not such a good method
for those games where the deal involves packets of more than three or
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four.
Stock: In many games a number of cards are dealt to the table as a stock.
These cards are sometimes called the Talon, or the Chien. These cards
will often be counted towards a players or a teams tricks but are not
added to their trick pile until the hand has been played.
Scart: A discard pile. Many games involve a player taking the cards in
the stock into his/her hand and then discarding an equal number of cards
into a scart. These cards will often be counted towards a players or a
teams tricks but are not added to their trick pile until the hand has been
played.
A Hand: The cards dealt to a player are known as his/her hand. A round
of play, as part of a game is also called a hand.
A Game: A game usually consists of as many hands as there are players.
For example, if playing a tarot for three players, then a complete game
will consist of three hands being dealt and played, with each player
taking one turn to deal.
The Declarer: Many Tarot games involve one player, Declarer, playing
against all the other players. Declarer is usually decided by a round of
bidding.
The Defenders: These are the players working as a team to prevent
Declarer winning the game.
Bidding: The bidding round is sometimes called an auction. Players
evaluate their hands and decide if they want to bid to be Declarer,
playing against all the other players. While the risks are greater for a
Declarer, the rewards for winning are much greater also. Games with a
bidding round can be played in different ways of varying difficulty for
Declarer to win. The harder the type of play bid for, the higher the stakes
in game points. The player that bids to play the hardest type is Declarer.
Contras: Not all games have this feature and those that do, implement
it a little differently. After the bidding round, each player will have the
chance to double the stakes by calling contra, they can also re-contra to
double again. Re-contra will usually have a limit, often ending with a
call of sub-contra. This can increase the points won or lost considerably,
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so if you are playing for money, you might want to limit this or disallow
altogether.
Playing a Trick: Declarer (or, if the game does not have a Declarer,
then eldest) begins by playing a card face up in the middle of the table.
This is called leading to the trick. The suit of the first card played is the
suit that has been led. Each player in turn, moving to the right, must
play another card of the same suit, this is called following suit. If they
cannot follow suit, then they must play a trump. If they can neither
follow suit nor play a trump, then they may play any card though it
cannot win. The highest card played of the suit led, wins the trick unless
a trump has been played, in which case the highest trump played wins
it. The player, who won the trick, takes the cards, places them face down
beside him/her to form a trick pile and leads to the next trick. (If playing
in a team, those players keep a joint trick pile)
The Ultimo: The ultimo is the last trick of a hand and there is often a
bonus for winning this with the Pagat - called the Pagat Ultimo - which
is harder than you might realise.
Counting the Card Points: Tarots counting is notoriously odd. There
are a number of different methods used by the different games. I have
listed the methods to be used with each game but have tried to create
some consistency between them and used the simplest methods available.
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The Games Part I
These games have been grouped together as an introduction to Tarot. If
you are new to card games then perhaps try them in the order given here,
each one will introduce you to new elements of game play. By the time
you have played them all, you should be a fairly skilled player, ready to
take on the later challenges.
However, dont think by this that these games are simply introductions
to better things. The last game steps up the complexity a little but in all
cases, simplicity in rules often hides a subtlety in play that can make for
a very sophisticated and enjoyable game.
One feature that links the games in this section is that they all use the
Fool in its traditional function - as an excuse.
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Tarocchi
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2.01 Scarto
This is the easiest of the Tarot games and a good introduc-
tion to the family for those who havent played many card
games before. It is a game for three players, all playing
against each other and will introduce you to the basics of
playing out a hand without any bidding or bonuses getting
in the way.
The Cards
A pack of 78 French suited Tarot cards may be used though
it usually played with an Italian suited Piedmontese pack. If
you play this with an Italian pack, then remember that the
Angel (also called Judgments) is the highest trump, not the
World. The Angel is also replaces the World (Mond) as the
third honour. The ranking is irrational, so your pack will
consist of:
The Fool, I-XXI of trumps, and then in the suits:
Spades & Clubs / Swords & Batons
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Hearts & Diamonds / Cups & Coins
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Deal
Decide who will deal first (deal then moves to the right), the
cards are then dealt in packets of 5, with Dealer taking the
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 points
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last three cards. Dealer then discards 3 cards into a scart (discard pile)
which will count towards his/her tricks for the hand. Kings and Honours
may not be discarded, though the Fool may be discarded if no other
trumps are held.
Play
Eldest, the player to Dealers right, leads to the first trick, playing any
card in his/her hand to the middle of the table. Each player in turn,
moving to the right, must then play a card of the same suit (follow suit).
If a player cannot follow suit, then they must play a trump, if they
cannot play a trump, then they can play any card, though it will not win.
If no trumps have been played, then the highest card of the suit led wins
the trick and that player takes the cards and puts them into his/her trick
pile. Otherwise, the highest trump played wins the trick.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost. At the end of
a trick to which the Fool has been played, the person who played it takes
it into his/her own trick pile and gives the player who won the trick, an
empty card from their trick pile in exchange.
Counting the points
At the end of play, count the cards in groups of three and minus 2 points
from each group. You might find it easier to first count the number of
groups you have, double that and minus the result from your total point
count. There are 78 points in the pack, so players win or lose 1 game
point for every point over or under 26. Add your game points for all
three hands for your final game score.
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2.02 Four Handed Tarocchi
This is another Piedmontese game. Four people play in two
fixed partnerships with partners sitting opposite one another.
It is simple but enjoyable and so an excellent introduction to
partnership play - think whist with tarot cards.
The Cards
This is played with a 78 card pack, traditionally the piedmon-
tese cards. As with some other Italian games, the Angel is
the highest trump and honour, not the Mond. Cards use
irrational ranking.
The Fool, I-XXI of trumps, and then in the suits:
Spades & Clubs / Swords & Batons
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Hearts & Diamonds / Cups & Coins
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
The Deal
The first Dealer is chosen at random, with deal moving to the
right after each hand. Each player is dealt 19 cards in a single
round with Dealer taking 21 cards. Dealer then discards 3
cards that may not include honours or kings. The discarded
cards (the scart) will count towards Dealers sides tricks at
the end.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 points
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Play
Eldest, the player to Dealers right, always leads to the first trick,
playing any card in his/her hand to the middle of the table. Each player
in turn, moving to the right, must then play a card of the same suit
(follow suit). If a player cannot follow suit, then they must play a trump,
if they cannot play a trump, then they can play any card, though it will
not win. If no trumps have been played, then the highest card of the suit
led wins the trick and that player takes the cards and puts them into
his/her trick pile. Otherwise, the highest trump played wins the trick.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost. At
the end of a trick to which the Fool has been played, the person who
played it takes it into his/her own trick pile and gives the player who
won the trick, an empty card from their trick pile in exchange.
Counting the points
At the end of play, count the cards in groups of three and minus 2 points
from each group. You might find it easier to first count the number of
groups you have, double that and minus the result from your total point
count. Two odd empty cards count for 1 point, one odd empty card
counts for nothing. There are 78 points in the pack, so 39 card points are
required for a side to win the hand. Unlike most tarot games, where
game points are calculated, this game of four hands is usually played for
a fixed stake.
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2.03 Baronetti
Yet another Piedmontese game, this time one long dead.
However, Michael Dummett suggests it as an excellent
childrens game to help familiarize them with the cards and
basics of play. As Im keen to see these games played by all
and of all ages, this strikes me as an excellent idea.
The Cards
This was played with an Italian suited pack but any 78 card
pack will do, depending upon which type of cards you intend
playing with the most. You might even like to try alternating
them.
So, we have a Fool, 21 numbered trumps, and then
Spades & Clubs / Swords & Batons
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Hearts & Diamonds / Cups & Coins
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Count the cards in pairs and deduct 1 point for each pair
from the total.
The Deal
First Dealer is chosen at random and alternates after that.
Each player is dealt three piles of ten cards and one of nine
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 points
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cards. As each pile is dealt, the top card is turned up for all to see.
Play
Dealers opponent leads to the first trick, playing any card in his/her
hand to the middle of the table. Dealer must then play a card of the same
suit (follow suit). If he/she cannot follow suit, then they must play a
trump, if they cannot play a trump, then they can play any card, though
it will not win. If no trumps have been played, then the highest card of
the suit led wins the trick and that player takes the cards and puts them
into his/her trick pile. Otherwise, the highest trump played wins the trick.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost. At
the end of a trick to which the Fool has been played, the person who
played it takes it into his/her own trick pile and gives their opponent an
empty card from their trick pile in exchange.
When a card is played from a pile, the next card is then exposed for both
to see. Play continues until all tricks have been played, the player with
the most points at the end wins the hand.
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2.04 Consiglio
If you have friends whose style of play leans towards the
hopelessly informal, to the point of discussing their hand
with their partner, then, Bindi and Jossie, this game is for
you!
The game is for four players in partnerships but is unusual
in that partners sit next to one another, facing their oppo-
nents. Further, partners are free to discuss their hands and
strategy openly, albeit in quite tones. This can make it
particularly suitable for new players, still unsure of the
cards or style of play.
The Cards
This was played with an Italian suited pack but any 78 card
pack will do, depending upon which type of cards you intend
playing with the most. You might even like to try alternating
them.
So, we have a Fool, 21 numbered trumps, and then
Spades & Clubs / Swords & Batons
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Hearts & Diamonds / Cups & Coins
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Count the card points in groups of four minus three points
count the odd two cards as if they were four, deducting 3
points from their total. This gives 72 card points.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Deal
First Dealer is chosen at random and then moves to the right after each
hand. Each player is dealt 19 cards in one packet of 4 and then two
packets of 5. Dealer takes the last 2 cards and then discards 2 into a scart
that will count towards Dealers sides tricks. The discards may not
include Kings, Honours, or, unless it there is no alternative, trumps.
Play
Eldest, the player to Dealers right, leads to the first trick, playing any
card in his/her hand to the middle of the table. Each player in turn,
moving to the right, must then play a card of the same suit (follow suit).
If a player cannot follow suit, then they must play a trump, if they
cannot play a trump, then they can play any card, though it will not win.
If no trumps have been played, then the highest card of the suit led wins
the trick and that player takes the cards and puts them into his/her trick
pile. Otherwise, the highest trump played wins the trick.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost. At
the end of a trick to which the Fool has been played, the person who
played it takes it into his/her own trick pile and gives the player who
won the trick, an empty card from their trick pile in exchange.
At all times, partners may quietly confer to discuss their hand and strategy.
Scores
A game consists of four hands, with each player taking a turn to deal.
There are two ways to score the game. In the first, partnerships simply
total their card points won for all four hands, with the highest total
winning perhaps a fixed stake. The other is for each side to win or lose
points taken over or below 36 for each hand.
You may also score a bonus of 10 points for winning the last trick with
the Pagat and lose 10 points if the Pagat is lost in the last trick.
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2.05 Mitigati
This is a game for three players with an interesting feature
of a bargaining round. If played for stakes, and according to
Michael Dummett it is played for high stakes, the bargaining
offers a chance to limit the potential losses of a bad hand.
This will also introduce you to a declarations round, a
common feature to many tarot games.
The Cards
This is played with a 78 card pack, traditionally the Piedmon-
tese cards. As with some other Italian games, the Angel is
the highest trump and honour, not the Mond. Cards use
irrational ranking.
The Fool, I-XXI of trumps, and then in the suits:
Spades & Clubs / Swords & Batons
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Hearts & Diamonds / Cups & Coins
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Deal
The first Dealer is chosen at random with deal moving to the
right after each hand. Players are each dealt 25 cards in
packets of 5 with Dealer taking 8 in the last packet. After the
second, third, and fourth rounds of the deal, there is a
bargaining round in which players evaluate their hands and
bargain to continue or discontinue the hand.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Bargaining
In each of the three sessions of bargaining, players beginning with
Eldest, speak in turn. They have four options:
They may pass
They may demand a sum of game points to discontinue the hand
They may offer a sum of game points to discontinue the hand
Or they may call Continue
When a player calls Continue then the bargaining session ends and the
deal continues. Otherwise, each player may speak in turn until the points
demanded and the points offered total zero. At that point, players settle
up in points and the hand is thrown in with deal moving to the next player.
Within a single session, once a player has spoken, they may not speak
again to improve their situation from the last time they spoke.
So, a player who has passed, may pass again, make an offer or make a
demand. A player who has made a demand, may next either pass,
demand less, or even make an offer. A player who made an offer may
only pass or offer more. However, any player may, in turn, always call
Continue.
Discard
If the deal is completed, then Dealer discards 3 cards that may not
include either honours or kings. The discarded cards will count towards
Dealers tricks at the end.
Declarations
After the discard, players can declare for bonuses. The points awarded
are not card points and do not count towards winning. They are scored
in game points against both of the opponents before play commences.
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Abundance: The player holds 10 or more trumps. These must be shown
to the other players. Scores 10 points plus 1 point for every trump over
10.
Kings: The player holds all four kings. This scores 20 points plus the
player may score 5 points for every honour card held in addition.
Mitigati: The player holds all three honour cards. This scores 15 points
plus the player may score 5 points for every King held in addition.
Mixed Honours: The player holds kings and honours that total 4 or
more cards. This scores 10 points plus 5 points for each additional card.
Cards used to declare an Abundance, may also be used to declare the
other bonuses. However, cards may not be used to declare more than
one of the other bonuses. So, a player may use the XX to declare
Abundance and Mitigati - but, they may not use the XX to declare for
Abundance, Mitigati and Mixed Honours. Also, a player may be able to
declare both Kings and Mitigati but cannot use the Kings to increase the
score of Mitigati or use the Honours to increase the score of Kings.
Play
Eldest, the player to Dealers right, leads to the first trick, playing any
card in his/her hand to the middle of the table. Each player in turn,
moving to the right, must then play a card of the same suit (follow suit).
If a player cannot follow suit, then they must play a trump, if they
cannot play a trump, then they can play any card, though it will not win.
If no trumps have been played, then the highest card of the suit led wins
the trick and that player takes the cards and puts them into his/her trick
pile. Otherwise, the highest trump played wins the trick.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost. At
the end of a trick to which the Fool has been played, the person who
played it takes it into his/her own trick pile and gives the player who
won the trick, an empty card from their trick pile in exchange.
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Counting the Cards
Unusually, the cards are counted singly, making a total of 129 points. At
then end of each hand, players win or lose game points for every card
point over or below 43.
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2.06 Chambry for Five
This game died out in the early 20
th
century but I have in-
cluded it here because there are few games for five players
or that allow for the purchase of cards.
Cards
This is played with a 78 card pack, traditionally with Italian
suits and trumps. Cards use irrational ranking.
The Fool, I-XXI of trumps, and then in the suits:
Spades & Clubs / Swords & Batons
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Hearts & Diamonds / Cups & Coins
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Deal
First Dealer is chosen at random, deal then moves to the
right after each hand. Each player is dealt 15 cards in three
packets of 5, with Dealer taking the last three cards.
Discard
Dealer must then discard three cards into a Scart that will
count towards his/her tricks at the end. The discard may not
include Kings, the XXI of trumps or the Fool. Other trumps
may be discarded but the Pagat may only be discarded if
Kings & Honours 4 points
Queens 3 points
Cavaliers 2 points
Valets 1 points
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there is no alternative and then it must be exposed to all players.
Bidding
There is a short round of bidding to determine who will be Declarer and
play alone against the other four players. There are three bids available:
Two Cards: Declarer calls for any two desired cards. The players who
have them must pass them face up to declarer, who exchanges any card
held for each them and passes these face down.
One Card: Declarer calls for any single desired card. The player who
has it must pass it face up to the declarer, who exchanges any card held
for it, passing that face down.
Solo: Declarer plays alone without purchasing a card.
If no players bid, then Dealer must call for a King not in his/her hand.
The player who holds the called King declares themselves and plays as
Dealers partner against the other three. If Dealer has all four Kings,
then a Queen may be called for instead. If Dealer has all four Kings and
all four Queens, then he/she should probably have made a bid and will
play alone against the others.
Play
Declarer leads to the first trick, playing any card in his/her hand to the
middle of the table. Each player in turn, moving to the right, must then
play a card of the same suit (follow suit). If a player cannot follow suit,
then they must play a trump, if they cannot play a trump, then they can
play any card, though it will not win. If no trumps have been played,
then the highest card of the suit led wins the trick and that player takes
the cards and puts them into his/her trick pile. Otherwise, the highest
trump played wins the trick.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost. At
the end of a trick to which the Fool has been played, the person who
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played it takes it into his/her own trick pile and gives the player who
won the trick, an empty card from their trick pile in exchange.
Scores
The card points are counted in what is likely to be the earliest method.
The counting cards are summed individually with an additional point
scored for each trick won. The scart, containing Dealers discard, counts
as one trick. There are therefore 68 card points in the game. Each player
of the winning side that scores over half these points, scores card points
equal to each card point won over 34 from each of the losers.
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2.07 Droggn
This account is based on that given by John McLeod, who
states that game might be dying out, his informants hadnt
played for around 10 years - and I made my first notes on
this 10 years ago. A great shame, as this is a very nice game
with the unusual feature for buying a card from another
player. It is fairly simple and a good choice try after master-
ing Scarto as it introduces you to bidding. It is played with
a 66 card pack, formed by removing the lowest 3 cards from
each of the regular suits.
The Cards
The game uses irrational ranking, so your pack will consist
of:
The Fool, I-XXI of trumps, and then in the suits:
Spades & Clubs / Swords & Batons
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4
Hearts & Diamonds / Cups & Coins
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Deal
Play is counter-clockwise. A dealer is chosen at random and
then 21 cards are dealt out to each player in packets of 7. The
last three cards are dealt face down to the table as the stock.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Bidding
After everyone has examined their cards, there is a short round of
bidding to decide who will be Declarer and play against the other two
players who will work together as defenders. Each player may bid only
once and if no-one bids, then the cards are thrown in and deal passes on.
There are four available bids:
Ansager Declarer exchanges and buys one card.
Solo Declarer exchanges but may not buy a card.
Super Declarer neither exchanges nor buys a card.
Slam Declarer contracts to win every trick.
The Exchange
If the bid allows an exchange, Declarer takes the stock (unseen by the
other players) into his/her own hand and discards 3 cards to count
toward his/her own tricks. If a King is discarded, then a trump must be
discarded with it. The honours may never be discarded.
Buying a card
If the bid allows buying a card, Declarer places any card from his/her
hand face down on the table and asks the opponents for a desired card
in return. Whoever has the requested card must pass it face up to
Declarer and takes the offered card into their hand as payment.
The Ultimo
Declarer may score a bonus for winning the last trick with the Pagat
this is doubled if the intention is announced before play. To declare a
Pagat Ultimo, Declarer places the Pagat face up on the table. Unan-
nounced, this scores 10 game points, announced, it scores 20.
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Playing the hand
Declarer leads to the first trick, playing any card in his/her hand to the
middle of the table. Each player in turn, moving to the right, must then
play a card of the same suit (follow suit). If a player cannot follow suit,
then they must play a trump, if they cannot play a trump, then they can
play any card, though it will not win. If no trumps have been played,
then the highest card of the suit led wins the trick and that player takes
the cards and puts them into his/her trick pile. Otherwise, the highest
trump played wins the trick.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost. At
the end of a trick to which the Fool has been played, the person who
played it takes it into his/her own trick pile and gives the player who
won the trick, an empty card from their trick pile in exchange.
If a Slam is being played, then the last trick may be won with the Fool
if all other tricks have been won and it has been declared before play.
Winning
At the end of each hand, the card points are counted in groups of 3,
subtracting two points for each group, giving a total of 74 card points.
If there was no exchange, then the stock counts towards the defenders
tricks. It is easiest to first count how many groups of three you have in
your tricks, double the number and then subtract it from the total
number of standard card points you have.
Declarer needs 37 card points to win the game, the game points scored
from winning are:
Ansager 20 points +1 for every card point over 37
Solo 40 points +1 for every card point over 37
Super 80 points +1 for every card point over 37
Slam 167 points.
Pagat Ultimo 10 points or 20 points announced
If Declarer loses the game, then the game points lost to each of the
defenders is the game bonus (eg 20 for Ansager) +1 for every card point
below 37
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2.08 Partita
This four handed game is played in fixed partnerships seated
opposite one another. It is a little unusual in having a large
number of permitted signals, as well as adopting a conven-
tion from the Bolognese tradition. It also employs a very old
method of scoring.
Cards
The game uses a reduced pack of 54 cards with irrational
ranking, traditionally Piedmontese cards, so your pack will
consist of:
The Fool, I-XXI of trumps, and then in the suits:
Spades & Clubs / Swords & Batons
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9, 8, 7
Hearts & Diamonds / Cups & Coins
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 1, 2, 3, 4
As with other Italian games, the Angel is the highest trump
and honour. An interesting quirk is that, like the old Bolog-
nese cards, the II, III, IV, and V of trumps (the Female Pope,
Empress, Emperor, and Pope) are all of equal rank. If more
than one is played to the same trick, then the last to be played
is considered to outrank the previous card.
Pagat & Angel 4 points
Kings 4 points
Queens 3 points
Cavaliers 2 points
Valets 1 points
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Deal
First dealer is chosen at random and then moves to the right after each
hand. A game consists of four hands and the first dealer of the next
game is the partner of the player who dealt the last hand of the previous
game. Each player receives 13 cards with the Dealer taking the last two
and then discarding two cards that will count towards Dealers sides
tricks. Kings and Honours may not be discarded, trumps may only be
discarded if there is no option and then they must be exposed to the
other players.
Play
Dealer leads to the first trick, playing any card in his/her hand to the
middle of the table. Each player in turn, moving to the right, must then
play a card of the same suit (follow suit). If a player cannot follow suit,
then they must play a trump, if they cannot play a trump, then they can
play any card, though it will not win. If no trumps have been played,
then the highest card of the suit led wins the trick and that player takes
the cards and puts them into his/her trick pile. Otherwise, the highest
trump played wins the trick.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost it
is retained by the side that played it. Unlike other games, if the opposing
side won the trick, no card is given in exchange.
Scores
The Fool is scored separately for 5 points. The other cards are counted
in pairs with 1 point added for every pair. An odd empty card will count
for 1 point. This makes 80 points in the game. Each side makes a
positive or negative score for each point taken over or below 40 for each
hand. At the end of a game, the scores for the four hands are totalled and
a fixed stake won by the winning team.
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Signals
There are a number of signals that players may use to communicate
information to their partner. Although these vary regionally and there is
no restriction on your developing your own, they must be recognized by
all playing, they must be made clearly so that opponents can read them
as well, they must be clarified if an opponent requests it, and they must
be true. These are the signals listed by Dummett and McLeod from one
village in Asti (with a couple of tiny changes).
Leading to a trick:
Drag the edge of the card from your left to right before placing it on the
trick.
I am playing this from a long suit.
Raise the card before lowering it on the trick in an arc.
I have all but one of the remaining cards in this suit
Leading with the intention for your partner to trump:
Move the card out to your right and then onto the trick in an arc.
Play the lowest trump required to win the trick (without accounting for
the fourth player)
Drag the edge of the card towards yourself before placing it on the trick.
Do not play a high trump
Tap the table with all fingers.
Do not play the highest trump you have
Playing a card of any suit (including trumps):
Tap the table with the cards edge.
I only have one more of this suit
Move one hand vertically downward in a sharp motion.
When you next lead, do so from a different suit than the one you last led
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Playing a trump:
Shake the card.
This is my last trump
Tremble the card.
My Pagat is at risk
After playing a trump, or your last card in a regular suit:
Knock the table with your fist.
I hold the highest remaining trump
Knock the table twice with your fist.
I hold the two highest remaining trumps
Make a circle in the air with a finger.
I have the World (XXI)
Raise one hand vertically in a sharp motion.
I have the XIX (Sun)
Tap the table with your middle finger.
I have the XVIII (Moon)
You may verbally announce having any of the XV, XVI, and XVII.
When playing from a regular suit:
Tap the table with your thumb.
I am now void in this suit
Knock the table with your fist.
I have the highest remaining card in this suit
Make a circle in the air with a finger.
I have the Queen
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When following suit to anothers lead:
Drag the edge of the card towards yourself.
Do not lead this suit
Just before you partner leads to a trick:
Tap the table and say either:
Piccolo meaning lead with a small trump
Or
Grande meaning lead with a large trump
At any time you may:
Mimic writing on the table with your finger.
give me some information
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2.09 Partita for Three
This is a simple variation on the regular game of Partita but
worth knowing if youre short a player.
Cards
The game uses a reduced pack of 54 cards with irrational
ranking, traditionally Piedmontese cards, so your pack will
consist of:
The Fool, I-XXI of trumps, and then in the suits:
Spades & Clubs / Swords & Batons
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9, 8, 7
Hearts & Diamonds / Cups & Coins
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 1, 2, 3, 4
As with other Italian games, the Angel is the highest trump
and honour. Like the old Bolognese cards, the II, III, IV, and
V of trumps (the Female Pope, Empress, Emperor, and Pope)
are all of equal rank. If more than one is played to the same
trick, then the last to be played is considered to outrank the
previous card.
Deal
The first Dealer is chosen at random with the deal moving to
the right after each hand. Each player is dealt 17 cards with
Kings & Honours 4 points
Queens 3 points
Cavaliers 2 points
Valets 1 points
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Dealer taking the last three and discarding three cards that will count
towards Dealers tricks. Kings and Honours may not be discarded,
trumps may only be discarded if there is no option and then they must
be exposed to the other players.
Play
Dealer leads to the first trick, playing any card in his/her hand to the
middle of the table. Each player in turn, moving to the right, must then
play a card of the same suit (follow suit). If a player cannot follow suit,
then they must play a trump, if they cannot play a trump, then they can
play any card, though it will not win. If no trumps have been played,
then the highest card of the suit led wins the trick and that player takes
the cards and puts them into his/her trick pile. Otherwise, the highest
trump played wins the trick.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost it
is retained by the side that played it. Unlike other games, if the opposing
side won the trick, no card is given in exchange.
There are three obligatory signals:
If leading from a long suit (strictly defined as four or more cards), then
drag the edge of the card from your left to right before placing it on the
trick.
If leading another card to a trick when the King is held in that suit, then
a call of King must be made.
When leading to a trick with a regular suit that you believe the last player
will trump, you must knock on the table with your fist.
Scores
The cards are counted individually, so that there are 104 points in the
pack. Each game consists of three hands, at the end of each hand players
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score or lose a point for each card point over or below 34. At the end of
a game, the player who has the lowest total pays a fixed stake to the
other two players. This is a little unusual and it would not be unreasona-
ble to assume that the stake would consist of the next round!
Going out early
This rule is played as standard but Im tagging it at the end as an option
because not everyone will play a game like this in a focussed manner.
During the third hand of a game, players are expected to keep a mental
not of the points they win trick by trick. When one of them reaches a
total of 35 points for the game, then they declare that they are out. In
reckoning the total, the Fool and Angel may be taken into account (as
they will not be lost). The player continues to play but according to the
following rules:
Whenever leading to a trick, the highest trump held must be played. If
no trumps are held, then the highest card of any of the other suits must
be led.
When playing to a trick, the player must play to win the trick with the
highest card they have. If they cannot win the trick, then the lowest
possible card must be played.
The Fool may not be played until the last trick.
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2.10 Grosstarock
The Danish Tarock is the last surviving game of the Grossta-
rock family that originated in Germany. It has some striking
differences from other tarot games making it a good for a bit
of a change as well as an exciting variation in its own right.
Unlike other tarot games of this section, there is a round of
obligatory declarations, so that players can work out quite
a lot about where the cards lie from the start. While quite
straight forward in principle, this is one of the more strategi-
cally demanding games.
This is a game for three players, played with a 78 card French
suited pack using irrational ranking. The Fool is used as an
excuse and play is counter-clockwise.
This game is best played with hard score, so you will need
some poker chips and two bowls or plates to serve as a King
Pot and a Pagat Pot.
There is no bidding in this game and while you do score for
card points in your tricks, the real aim is to try and win an
Ultimo (the last trick) with either a King or the Pagat,
winning you the respective pot.
The Foundation
At the start of the game, players pay 40 points in chips into
each of the pots as a foundation payment. Thereafter, should
one of the pots be emptied, each player must again pay 40
points into it.
Deal and Discard
The first Dealer is chosen at random with deal moving to the
right after each hand. Each player is dealt 25 cards in packets
of 5, with Dealer taking the last three cards to have 28.
Dealer must then discard 3 to a scart that will count to his/her
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tricks.
Honours and Kings may not be discarded and nor may trumps unless the
discard will leave Dealer void in trumps (ie. leave Dealer without any
trumps).
Cards may not be discarded if they would count towards a bonus
declaration (see below). If there is no option but to discard such a card,
then Dealer must show them and must declare for bonuses with these
cards.
Dealer then pays 5 points into each pot.
Bonuses
Before play commences, players score for having certain combinations
in their hand. These declarations are not optional though. This can give
away a great deal of information about your hand to the other players,
so the bonus payments awarded should be seen as compensation. When
a player declares for a bonus, the other players must pay immediately.
Kings:
Full Kings All four kings (10 points)
Abundant Kings All four kings and the Fool (15 points)
Half Kings Three Kings and the Fool (5 points)
Royalty: This is based on having the court cards of a
single suit.
Full suit name All four court cards of that suit (10 points)
Abundant suit name All four court cards of that suit and the Fool (15
points)
Half suit name Three court cards of that suit and the Fool (5
points)
You must declare for each qualifying suit.
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Honours:
The Honours are The Fool, Pagat, & Mond.
Four Honours are the Honours + 20 of trumps
Five Honours are the Honours + 20 and 19 of trumps
.and so on to the 2 of trumps.
The Honours score 10 points with a further 5 for each trump
Trumps: Players must declare for 10 or more trumps. As with the other
bonuses, the Fool is counted but unlike them, it is not indicated. Howev-
er, if you have the Pagat, you must indicate it in your declaration: eg 13
trumps with the pagat
10 Trumps score 10 points with a further 5 for each additional trump.
Play
Eldest, the player to Dealers right, leads to the first trick, playing any
card in his/her hand to the middle of the table. Each player in turn,
moving to the right, must then play a card of the same suit (follow suit).
If a player cannot follow suit, then they must play a trump, if they
cannot play a trump, then they can play any card, though it will not win.
If no trumps have been played, then the highest card of the suit led wins
the trick and that player takes the cards and puts them into his/her trick
pile. Otherwise, the highest trump played wins the trick.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost. At
the end of a trick to which the Fool has been played, the person who
played it takes it into his/her own trick pile and gives the player who
won the trick, an empty card from their trick pile in exchange. If a slam
is won, that is, when a player takes all the tricks in the game, then the
Fool is won also.
There are two payments that apply during play up to but excluding the
last trick:
If the Pagat is played to a trick but does not win it, then the player pays
each of the other players and the Pagat Pot 5 points.
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If a King is played to a trick but does not win it, then the player pays
each of the other players and the King Pot 5 points.
Finishing the Hand:
Slam: If a player takes all the tricks, each of the other players must pay
85 points (this is in addition to the card points) and both pots are won.
Beggar: If one player (ie not if a slam has been won) takes no tricks,
then Ultimos and Baguds are not counted. Each of the other two players
must pay 25 points.
Pagat Ultimo: If the last trick is won with the Pagat, then the Pagat Pot
is won and each of the other players must pay 45 points.
King Ultimo: If the last trick is won with a King, then the King Pot is
won and each player must pay 40 points.
Simple Ultimo: If the last trick is won but without a King or the Pagat,
then each player pays 20 points.
Pagat Bagud: If the Pagat is played to the last trick but does not win,
then each of the other players and the Pagat Pot must be paid 45 points.
King Bagud: If a King is played to the last trick but does not win, then
each of the other players and the King Pot must be paid 40 points.
Payments for Card Points:
Except for Eldest, the players now count their card points:
Honours and Kings 4 points
Kings 4 points
Queens 3 points
Cavaliers 2 points
Valets 1 points
Each group of 3 cards 1 point
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Each point under 26, rounded to the nearest multiple of 5, is paid to
Eldest.
Each point over 26, rounded to the nearest 25, is paid by Eldest.
Finishing the Session:
After the last game, if there is anything left in the pots, then they are
divided equally between the three players.
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The Games Part II
Of all the Tarot games, it is the French game that is probably the best
known and most widely played. I have known players from France,
Germany, Spain, and even the Ukraine. It has an excellent balance of
chance and strategy but is not too bogged down by complexity, making
it easy to learn and a great social game. If you are quite new to trick
taking games, then I would recommend starting with Scarto and
Droggn. If youre a solo or bridge player, then you might want to dive
straight in and begin with this one!
French tarot was once subject to many variations but since the French
Federation of Tarot (FFT) arose and began to maintain official rules,
it is these rules that are seen and published the most, perhaps at the
expense of other games. For some years I believed that these FFT rules
were the only ones in use, having all my sources based upon their
publications. However, according to Dummett & McLeod, there are a
number of popular variations and optional rules in play, I shall give
some of these after the basic game.
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3.1.1 Jeu de Tarot
These are the rules that you will most commonly find in
books and on the inter-net, so they are a good place to start.
The Cards
It is played with a full 78 card pack with rational ranking.
The Fool, I-XXI of trumps, and then in the suits:
All suits rank:
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
At the end of the hand, the cards are counted in pairs,
subtracting 1 for each pair, giving a total of 91 card points in
the pack.
You might also find it easier to think of the cards as having
one half point less, so that an honour or a King would be 4.5,
a Queen, 3.5, etc. This way, you can pair one counter with
one empty card for easier counting.
Deal
The first Dealer is chosen at random with deal moving to the
right after each hand. Each player is dealt 18 cards in packets
of 3, with 6 cards (neither the first, nor the last 6) dealt face
down to the middle as the stock. A deal may be annulled if
one player has no trumps bar the Pagat.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Bidding
There follows a quick round of bidding to determine who will be
Declarer pitted against the other players. There are four bids available:
Petite: Declarer turns the stock cards face up for all to see, then takes
them into his/her hand and discards six cards into a scart pile that will
be counted toward Declarers tricks. Kings, honours and trumps may
not be discarded though if this rule cannot be obeyed, then trumps may
be discarded if they are shown to the other players and do not include
any honours.
Garde: This is played as the Petite but for a higher reward and risk
Garde without the stock: The stock cards go unseen and count toward
Declarers tricks.
Garde against the stock: The stock cards go unseen and count toward
the defenders tricks.
The player who bids for the highest game (petite being the lowest)
becomes Declarer and leads to the first trick. The others play together
as the defenders. If all pass, then the cards are re-dealt.
Bonuses
Before play commences, players have the opportunity to announce for
bonuses. Only an Abundance has to be announced to score - but a Slam
will score more points if it is announced. These are different from card
points only card points can count towards winning a hand. These are
instead game points, won from your opposition.
Pagat Ultimo: If the Pagat is played to the last trick, then the side that
wins it receives a bonus of 10 points.
Slam: 200 points awarded for winning all the tricks in a hand. If playing
for a Slam, then on the last trick, if all previous tricks have been won,
the Fool may be played as though it were the highest trump. Before
playing out the hand, players have the option of declaring that they
intend to play for a Slam. In this instance, if won, the Slam scores 400
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points, however, if lost, then the opponents score the bonus.
An Abundance: If players have 10 or more trumps in their hand, then
they may declare them for bonus points. This is called an Abundance.
There is no obligation to do so as it does reveal information about your
hand to other players. Also, the bonus is scored for the side that wins the
game for example, if Declarer announces for an Abundance but fails
to win the game, then the defenders will score for the bonus. When
declared, the player must place the trumps face up on the table. Players
are allowed to include the excuse for the bonus but only if they have not
enough other trumps.
Play
Declarer leads to the first trick, playing any card in his/her hand to the
middle of the table. Each player in turn, moving to the right, must then
play a card of the same suit (follow suit). If a player cannot follow suit,
then they must play a trump, if they cannot play a trump, then they can
play any card, though it will not win. If no trumps have been played,
then the highest card of the suit led wins the trick and that player takes
the cards and puts them into his/her trick pile. Otherwise, the highest
trump played wins the trick.
When playing a trump, players must observe the overtrump rule. This
states that if a trump has already been played to a trick, then, if another
player wants to play a trump to it they must, if they can, play a higher
trump than any already played.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost. At the end of
a trick to which the Fool has been played, the person who played it takes
it into his/her own trick pile and gives the player who won the trick, an
empty card from their trick pile in exchange.
Single 10 trumps 20 points
Double 13 trumps 30 points
Triple 15 trumps 40 points
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Winning the Hand
The number of card points that Declarer needs to win the hand actually
varies with the number of honours in his/her trick pile. Only card points
count towards winning the hand, bonuses are game points won from the
opposition.
No honours 56 points
One honour 51 points
Two honours 41 points
Three honours 36 points
So, the more honours you have, the easier it is to win.
Once the winner(s) have been determined, you must calculate the
winnings in game points.
The winners score 25 game points for the hand, then they add the
difference between the card points required by Declarer and those
actually won - for example, if Declarer won 52 card points and had two
honours, only 41 card points were needed to win, so 11 points are added.
The Pagat Ultimo bonus, if won, is added to this and the total is
multiplied according to the game being played:
Petite x1
Garde x2
Garde without the stock x4
Garde against the stock x6
Finally, the remaining bonuses of an abundance and slam are added or
subtracted if won or lost.
If the Declarer has won, then the score is paid by each of the defenders,
otherwise, this is what Declarer must pay to each of them.
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3.1.2 Three Player Version
Each player is dealt 24 cards in packets of 4.
The requirements for an Abundance become:
Single: 13 trumps Double : 15 trumps Triple: 18 trumps
3.1.3 Five Player Version
Each player is dealt 15 cards in packets of 5 with just 3 cards dealt to
the stock.
The requirements for an Abundance become:
Single: 8 trumps Double : 10 trumps Triple: 13 trumps
Before taking the stock, Declarer must call for a King, or, if Declarer
has all the kings, then a queen. Whoever holds the called card becomes
Declarers partner, sharing both the risk and the reward however,
partners may not announce themselves, their identity becomes clear
only from play (and obvious once the called card is played to a trick). If
the called card was in the stock, the Declarer must play alone.
3.2 Six Player Version
The account of this given in Dummett & McLeod has some gaps but we
had a go at filling them in and feel that this makes for a good game.
Players
Six play in three fixed partnerships, seated with partners opposite one
another.
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Deal
First Dealer is chosen at random and then deal moves to the right after
each hand. Players receive 12 cards in three packets of 3, with 6 cards
being dealt to the stock.
Bidding
There is then a round of bidding to decide which partnership shall be the
Declarers playing against the other four. Each player must make a
higher bid than the previous bid, however, a players may bid more than
once, even when they have previously passed. A player may also call
contra to a bid made by another partnership, a member of which may
then reply re-contra. Bidding continues until there have been five passes.
There are five available bids, although the first two are reduced to
dummy bids and are used only to communicate information. If bidding
ends with either a Petite or a Pousse (an old bid no longer used in
modern games), then the hand is thrown in a re-dealt by the same Dealer.
Petite dummy bid
Pousse dummy bid
Garde: The stock is exposed and the winning bidder chooses either the
first three cards or the second three to take, bidders partner then takes
the remaining three cards. Each partner discards three cards into their
scart (discard) pile that will count towards their tricks. Kings, honours
and trumps may not be discarded though if this rule cannot be obeyed,
then trumps may be discarded if they are shown to the other players and
do not include any honours.
Garde without the stock: The stock cards go unseen and count toward
Declarers tricks.
Garde against the stock: The stock cards go unseen and count toward
the defenders tricks.
If a player bids Petite or Pousse, or calls contra to one of these, it is to
communicate that they hold at least one of the Honours.
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Bonuses and Winning the Game
Bonuses and scores are as for the four player game. However, the
requirements for an Abundance become:
Single: 6 trumps Double : 8 trumps Triple: 11 trumps
If won, each opposing partnership pays one of the Declarers. If lost,
each declarer pays one of the opposing partnerships.
3.3.0 Two Player Games
There are a couple of two player French games given by Dummett &
McLeod that are definitely worth learning. They dont seem very keen
on the games but they are still fun and sometimes, we hope, three is a
crowd.
3.3.1 La Dcouverte
This game uses the same device as the Austrian game of Straw Man
Tarock, though not, I think, as successfully. None the less, it is still a
fairly good two player.
Deal
The first dealer is chosen at random and deal then passes back and forth
between the two players. Each is dealt 12 cards to their hand in packets
of 4, then each has dealt 12 packets of two cards in two rows in front of
them, the top card of each packet is turned face up at the end of the deal.
6 cards are dealt to the stock in two packets of 3 cards at any stage in the
deal.
Bidding
Bidding takes place as per the normal game, as does the scoring, though
there are no bonuses for an Abundance.
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Play
All as per the normal game, however, the exposed cards are treated as
though they are part of the players hands and are subject to the usual
rules of play. As one of these face up cards is played, the card below it
is exposed.
3.3.2 La Tirette
Deal
The first dealer is chosen at random and deal then passes back and forth
between the two players. Each is dealt 24 cards in packets of 4 with 6
being dealt to the stock. The remaining cards are set aside until play
begins.
Bidding
Bidding takes place as per the normal game, as does the scoring, though
there are no bonuses for an Abundance.
Play
The remaining 24 cards now come into play as a second stock. The
bottom card of this stock is first taken out and placed on the table face
up. Each player takes the top card of the stock and after exposing it,
takes it into their hand. The player who wins the 12
th
trick, wins the
exposed card. Once the stock has been emptied, the remaining cards
are played normally.
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3.3.3 Tarot with a Dummy
Deal
Three hands are dealt, one to each player and one dummy hand, each
with 24 cards in packets of 4, then with 6 cards dealt to the stock.
Bidding
Bidding takes place as per the normal game, as does the scoring,
though there are no bonuses for an Abundance.
Play
Dealers opposite always leads to the first trick. Once the first card has
been played, the dummy hand is exposed and is played from by the
defending player.
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The Games Part III
These two have been placed in their own section together, not just
because they are both Swiss but because they dont quite fit in any other
section. They have in common the same Italian suited tarot pack known
as the Swiss 1JJ (it has been suggested that the JJ refers to Juno and
Jupiter who replace the Popess and the Pope).
The Swiss 1JJ was the first tarot to be imported by U.S. Games Systems
back in the eighties for fortune telling (it was also imported to the UK
by Waddingtons in the seventies for that end). Tarot cards are now their
principle product and they have been a major force in popularising the
occult packs as well as being the largest publisher of them. Sadly, the
1JJ they currently sell has English titles with the coins re-named
pentacles. AG Muller still sell the French titled cards and Ive noted
places where you can buy them in the Appendices.
Both games have their own unique character and both have excellent
versions for more than four players. Troccas can be played with up to
six and Troggu with as many as eight!
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4.1.1 Troccas for Four
This is one of two Swiss games played with an Italian suited
pack related to the Besanon pattern. What makes this
pattern distinct, is that the Pope and Popess cards have been
replaced by Jupiter and Juno. There are two accounts of this
game that differ slightly. Ill give the version described by
Michael Dummett first, that was taken from an AG Muller
leaflet, and shall go on to discuss the extra feature found at
John McLeods web site.
The Cards
This is a full pack of 78 cards with Italian suits and trumps,
using irrational ranking:
Swords & Batons / Spades & Trumps
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Tricks are counted in groups of 4 cards, subtracting 3 points
for each group. Dealers team will have two odd cards they
count for their combined value minus 1 point. This gives a
total of 72 points.
Partnerships and Deal
Each player in turn cuts the cards until they have all revealed
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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a trump. The two with the highest trumps and the two with the lowest
trumps form partnerships, with each partner sitting opposite the other.
The deal can follow one of a few different methods, in each case the
players receive 19 cards each, with Dealer taking the extra 2 cards, with
the last card dealt to each player dealt face up.
Under ordinary conditions players are each given two packets of 6 cards
followed by a packet of 7 cards, with Dealer taking the last 9.
Players examine their cards as they are dealt and with each round of the
deal any player may request that the hand be re-dealt by the same Dealer.
However, any other player may overrule by demanding that the deal
continues.
If one side has a total of minus nine points or less, they may request that
the deal be one packet each of 9 cards and one packet of 10 cards, with
Dealer taking the last 12.
If one side has a total of minus 18 points or less, they may gather up the
cards themselves, cut the pack as they wish, and request they be dealt in
one packet of 19 cards with Dealer taking 21.
Play
Dealer must discard two cards and, as is usual, Kings and Honours
cannot be discarded but all other cards, including trumps, may be. The
discard pile (scart) will then count towards Dealers tricks at the end of
play.
Eldest leads to the first trick with any card. Each player in turn, moving
to the right, must try to follow suit, if they cannot, then they must play
a trump, if they cannot play a trump, then they may play any card
though it cannot win. The Fool may be played at any time to avoid
following these rules but it is never lost. If the side that wins the trick
did not play the Fool, they must accept a low card from their opponents
trick pile (but not from the scart) in exchange.
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Calling the Valet
This is an interesting twist to play, unique to this game. When a suit is
led for the first time, then, if the King is played to the trick, the winner
of the trick may call the Valet to the King. The player who has the valet
must add it to the trick, taking back the card they originally played
unless they are on the winners team and have played either the Cavalier
or the Queen. If the Valet is in the scart, it is not called.
If the player with the King also has the Valet, he/she may play both
together and, when the trick is taken, must take another card of the same
suit from the trick back into his/her hand. In the event of the trick being
lost, then they cannot take back either the King or the Valet.
Signalling Trumps
According to Dummett, this is an optional rule, though McLeod sug-
gests that it is regional.
When the holder of the Mond is first obliged to play a trump, he/she may
knock the table to indicate that they hold it. After the Mond has been
played, they may knock again if they hold the 20 and, when that is
played, again to indicate the 19.and so on.
Scores
The cards are counted and teams win or lose game points equal to the
card points over or below 36. A game consists of four hands.
Tschintschar
According to the John McLeods web site, the deal represents an oppor-
tunity to exchange some information and to call for a hand to be re-dealt.
The first deal takes place as already described.
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For subsequent deals of a game:
After each round of the deal (ie after a packet has been dealt to each
player), the deal pauses for the players to consider their hands. Each
player in turn, beginning with Eldest may speak only once. A player
may call to throw in the hand and deal afresh, call Play to veto such a
call, or use the opportunity to say something about his/her hand within
strict limits. In Switzerland, the information is given by a code, referring
to locations in the Medel Valley. Whilst this is part of the charm of the
game, I dont expect many readers to have much knowledge of the
geography or places within there and so Ive made the decision to use a
rather more literal set of permitted calls. The ambiguity in some of the
calls is intentional and limits the information given.
Some trumps
A couple of trumps
Plenty of trumps
Weak trumps
Many trumps
No trumps
Full court of suit - all four court cards in the named suit.
Royal marriage in suit - the King and queen of the named suit.
A few courts in suit
Two kings
One King
Bare King of suit - King and not other courts of the named suit.
Supported King
Matriarch in suit - the queen and some courts of the named suit.
Surfs of suit - the King and some pip cards in the named suit.
My share
Hardly my share
Without me
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4.1.2 Troccas for Six Players
Two teams of 3 players sit themselves alternately so that no-one is
sitting next to a team mate. The rules for play are not complete from
either Dummett or McLeod so I have filled in the gaps from my own
play.
Teams may be chosen as for the normal game or by agreement with the
first Dealer chosen at random. Players are dealt one packet of 6 cards
and one of 7 cards. They may call for deal to be discontinued as per the
normal game. According to McLeod, this option and the Tschintschar
are not played but it doesnt harm the game if they are employed - so
use them or not, as you prefer.
The cards are still counted in fours but where there are two odd cards,
they are counted as if they are a full group, subtracting 3 points.
Otherwise, play is as for the four player game.
4.1.3 Troccas for Three Players
Not the best of the three player games by a long shot but if you tend to
just play Troccas and are short one player, then its a fall back with
familiar rules.
All play for themselves, with first Dealer chosen at random. Players
receive two packets of 8 cards and one packet of 9 with Dealer taking
the last 12. Players may still call for deal to be discontinued but they will
always be overruled by someone.
Dealer must discard 3 cards to a scart that will count towards his/her
tricks at then end. The discard may not include Honours or Kings and
the cards are worth their score minus one point. The cards are counted
individually for a total of 127 card points. Dealer scores or loses game
points for every card point over or below 43, for the other players this
is over or below 42.
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4.1.4 Troccas for Five Players
Again, if you want to play a five handed tarot game, then really, look at
the French tarot. However, this is a good enough fall back if Troccas is
your usual game.
Essentially, this is the same as the three player version. Players receive
three packets of 5 cards, with Dealer taking the last 8 - Dealer discards
as before. Dealer scores or loses game points for every card point over
or below 27, for the other players this is over or below 25.
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4.2 Troggu
John McLeods web site was my initial source for this
second Swiss entry. He states that it is on the verge of
disappearing altogether, which, given that this is an enjoya-
ble game for as many as eight players, makes it important
include where we can we dont want to lose it. He also
draws attention to an interesting little quirk regarding the
Fool. The games you have played so far have all employed
the Fool in its traditional role as an excuse but the more
recent games, covered in the next section, use the Fool as the
highest trump. Troggu bridges these traditions, employing it
in both ways depending upon the circumstances of its play.
Cards
Once again, the 1JJ tarot is used with irrational ranking but
this time it is reduced to a 62 pack, having the lowest four
pip cards of each regular suit removed:
Swords & Batons / Spades & Trumps
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
The card points are counted individually rather than in
groups, so there are 114 points in the pack.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Deal
The first Dealer is chosen randomly and then deal moves to the right.
The number of cards dealt to players and to the stock depends upon the
number of players:
For 3 players, each receives 3 packets of 6 cards with 8 dealt to the stock.
For 4 players, each receives 2 packets of 4 cards and one packet of 5
with 10 dealt to the stock.
For 5 players, each receives 2 packets of 4 cards and one packet of 3
with 7 dealt to the stock.
For 6 players, each receives one packet of 4 cards and packet of 5 with
8 dealt to the stock.
For 7 players, each receives two packets of 4 cards with 6 dealt to the
stock.
For 8 players, each receives one packet of 4 cards and one packet of 3
with 6 dealt to the stock.
Bidding
Starting with Eldest, players may then bid to be Declarer and play
against all the other players who will be working as a single team. There
are two possible bids:
With the Stock: Declarer takes the stock into his/her hand and discards
the number of cards of the stock into a scart (discard pile) which will
count toward his/her tricks at the end of the hand. Kings and Honours
may not be discarded unless all four Kings are held, then, all the Kings
may go to the scart.
Without the Stock: The stock goes unseen by all and will count towards
Declarers tricks at the end of the hand.
If someone bids to be Declarer and there are 7 or 8 players, then
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Declarer calls a trump - though not an Honour. Whoever holds the
called card plays as Declarers partner, though they cannot announce
who they are. If the called trump is in Declarers hand or in the stock,
then Declarer must play alone and without the stock (which will still
count towards his/her tricks).
If all the players pass and there are less than 7 playing, then a Beggars
game is played. The stock is disregarded and the first trick is led by
Eldest in an all against all match to win the fewest card points. The
player who wins the most card points must pay each of the other players
10 game points.
If all the players pass and there are 7 or 8 players, then, whoever holds
the Fool must play as if they bid With the Stock. If no one holds the
Fool, then the holder of the Pagat must play to this rule. If neither the
Fool nor the Pagat are held, then a Beggars game is played.
Play
Declarer leads to the first trick or Eldest, if a Beggars game is played.
Players in turn, moving to the right, must follow suit if they can or play
a trump. If they cannot play a trump, then any card may be played but it
cannot win. The Fool is used as the highest trump with one exception.
If it is the last trump in a players hand and a trump must be played, then
the player may elect not to play it, instead playing any card to the trick
as if they had no trumps. Once this is done, the Fool ceases to be a
Trump for that hand and is played as an excuse - it cannot win a trick but
when played it goes into its players trick pile in exchange for a low
card from its players tricks.
Scores
A tie can be achieved at 57 points, with 58 points required to win the
game. Each player on the losing side must pay each member of the
winning side a basic payment of 10 game points for playing with the
stock or 20 points for against the stock. This is doubled if the losing
side has less than 30 points and trebled if they lose all the tricks.
If Declarer has a partner, the partner receives, if the game was won, or
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pays, if the game was lost, 20 game points - balance of points won or
lost are received or paid by Declarer.
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The Games Part IV
This selection of games all have two things in common. Firstly, they use
the Fool not as an excuse, which was its original use, but as the highest
trump. It seems a shame to lose one of tarots interesting little features
but these games more than make up for the loss. The other common
element is that they are all played with a reduced pack of cards - in most
cases this is 54 cards, having the lowest 6 cards of each suit removed.
Bidding tends to play a much larger role in these games, as do an-
nouncements for making achievements, with a much greater range of
objectives than you will have met before. Play can be fast and competi-
tive but always good fun. For those games played with three, in particu-
lar the three player Slovenian game, you will find the need for a clear
head and focused strategy.
As an individual game, the French one is probably the better known, but
as a family, it is this one that is most widely played in the world.
Throughout central and Eastern Europe, as far as the Ukraine and,
thanks to its history of immigration, there are pockets of popularity in
the United States.
It is usual to play these with a French suited pack and you can find 54
card packs from Austria and Germany, whose designs are as baroque
as the game play. I think it is worth doing a little shopping to add to your
collection of cards - if only because I enjoy the variety.
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5.01.1 Tapp Tarock
This three player game is the first of the Austrian games in
this section and, while a simple game, will introduce you to
both the use of the Fool as the highest trump and the short-
ened packs that are common to continental Europe.
Once youve mastered this game, I hope that you will try out
Illustrated Tapp. This game introduces an excellent type of
announcement that can spice up the game considerably.
Cards
The 54 card Austrian pack consists of 22 trump cards num-
bered I-XXI and the Fool, which is the highest trump. There
are then 8 cards in each of the four suits, using irrational
ranking:
Swords & Batons / Spades & Clubs
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4
Cards are counted in groups of three, subtracting 2 points for
each group. There are 70 points in the pack.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Deal
First Dealer is chosen at random. Six cards are dealt to the stock in two
packets of three cards, the second packet being laid crosswise on top of
the first. Then, each player is dealt 16 cards in two packets of 8 cards.
Bidding
There follows a round of bidding, the player who bids for the highest
game plays as Declarer against the other players who work together as
defenders. There are four possible bids:
3 Cards: Declarer turns the cards of the stock face up and chooses either
the top three or the bottom three cards and takes them into his/her hand.
Declarer then discards three cards into a scart (discard pile) to count
towards his/her tricks at the end - Kings and Honours may never be
discarded, trumps may only be discarded if it there is no option and then
any discarded must be shown to the defenders. The remaining cards of
the stock will count towards the defenders tricks.
Bottom 3: As 3 Cards but Declarer takes the bottom 3 cards without
revealing the stock.
Top 3: As 3 Cards but Declarer takes the top 3 cards without revealing
the stock.
Solo: The stock remains unseen and counts towards the defenders tricks.
Any player may bid for Solo and end the bidding, otherwise a player
must make the lowest possible bid. For example Eldest may pass, bid
Solo, or bid 3 Cards. If eldest bids 3 Cards, the next player may pass,
bid Solo, or bid Bottom 3. An elder player who is outbid may call I
hold and take the higher bid for him/her self. Any player who has
passed may not bid again.
Bonuses
Declarer has the opportunity to score for bonuses, these may be declared
before play begins for extra points.
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Pagat Ultimo: Declarer contracts to win the last trick with the lowest
trump.
Slam: Declarer contracts to win every trick.
Play
Declarer leads to the first trick with play moving to the right, each
player in turn must follow suit or, if they cannot, they must play a trump.
If they can neither follow suit or trump, then they may play any card -
though it cannot win. The highest card of the led suit wins the trick
unless a trump was played, then it is the highest trump that wins.
Scores
To win the game, Declarer must win 36 or more points. For bids and
bonuses, if won, the defenders must each pay Declarer the value, if lost,
Declarer must pay that value to each of the defenders.
If a Slam was declared and won, then the points for the bid are multi-
plied by 8. If an undeclared Slam is won, then the points for the bid are
multiplied by 4.
Three Cards 3 points
Bottom Three 4 points
Top Three 5 points
Solo 8 points
Declared Ultimo 4 points
Undeclared Ultimo 8 points
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5.01.2 Illustrated Tapp
This is identical to Tapp but for the addition of a special announcement,
allowing a Declarer to capitalize on a very good hand.
After the discard has been made, the Declarer may announce:
With 40 3 points
With 45 6 points
With 50 10 points
With 55 15 points
These announcements are scored independently of the bid and contract
Declarer to win the announced number of card points. Further, each
announcement is considered to include all those below it - so by
announcing With 45, a player is also announcing With 40 and both of
these are scored individually.
For example, if Declarer announces With 50 but wins only 47 card
points, then Declarer pays each of the defenders 1 point. That is 10
points for the lost With 50 minus 3+6 for the With 40 and With 45 that
were won.
Before play begins, one of the defenders may call contra to either the
bid or to any announcement or part of it, thus doubling the score.
Declarer may in turn reply re-contra to double it a second time, and
any other player may finish with sub-contra to double it once again.
When making a contra to one of the special announcements, a defender
may make the contra to just a part of it. For example, if With 50 has been
announced, then a defender may:
call contra the 50 and double only the With 50 but not the With 45 or
With 40 implicit to the announcement.
call contra the 40 and double all three (ie the With 40, 45, and 50).
call contra the 45 and double only the With 45 and With 50 but not
the With 40.
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It will take some practice to get to know just how good your hand is and
winning 55 points playing 1 against 2 is much harder than you might
think.
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5.02 Zwanzig-Rufen
Not Zwanziger-Rufen? Well, it is true that in all but one
reference that I have found to the game, it is called Zwan-
ziger-Rufen. However, years ago, when I mentioned the
game to my German housemate Dagmar, her eyes widened
with disapproval and she said but there is NO such word!
So, for purely personal reasons, this is Zwanzig-Rufen.
My thanks goes to Nora Falk for telling me the origin of the
term Zwanziger-rufen. In Vienna, if you wanted a 20 schill-
ing note, you would have asked for a Zwanzger and so
we have Zwanzgerrufen. She also informs me that when
people want end play, the last round of dealing would begin
with the player who has been dealt the Fool.
This four player game is not complicated and makes another
fine introduction to the family, it is good fun and a good
introduction to the family of Rufer games that is, calling
for a partner. It is unusual in that it is uses just 40 cards. I
must admit that for a long time I had thought little of it until
I recently played it again with some friends which left me
feeling that I had underestimated it due to its simplicity.
Dont make the same mistake.
Michael Dummett states that the order of play is clockwise,
however, I have seen an Austrian internet source that states
it to be counter-clockwise. Ill leave it to you to decide but if
only for continuity, I stick to counter-clockwise. There are
heaps of variations on this game, so once more, Ive chosen
those that seemed to play best to me.
Cards
This is usually played with a French suited pack with The II
and III of trumps and all but one of the pips removed in each
suit and using irrational ranking.
There are 20 trumps numbered I, IV-XXI with the highest
trump, the Fool, un-numbered.
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Swords & Batons / Spades & Clubs
K, Q, C, V, 10
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1
The cards are counted individually, totalling 88 points. Declarers side
must make 45 points or more to win the hand.
Deal
First Dealer is chosen at random, deal then moves to the right after each
hand. There is no stock, so each player is dealt two packets of 5 cards.
Announcements
There are only two announcements and these are made along with a
players bid. If outbid by another player, the announcement becomes
void. The Pagat may be announced without a bid under a special
condition explained under the bid Rufer.
Pagat Ultimo: Player contracts to win the last trick with the Pagat.
Scores 4
Slam: Player contracts to win every trick. Scores 12
Both of these can be won by any player unannounced but will only score
half.
Honours 5 points
Kings 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
Other Trumps 1 point
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Bidding
Beginning with Eldest, each player has the chance to bid to be Declarer
or to pass. However, players may only make the lowest possible bid
open to them and Eldest is obliged to make a bid.
Call: This is only bid open to Eldest. It is bid by calling the highest
trump below XXI that the bidder doesnt have. The holder of that card
will be partner for the game though they cannot announce themselves
except by announcing a Pagat Ultimo. Scores 1 point.
No Trumps: Declarer must play alone but trumps lose their ability to
trump, and become an ordinary suit. However, the rules of play do not
change and they must be played if a player cannot follow suit. Obvious-
ly, the Pagat Ultimo cannot be announced with No Trumps. Scores 2
points.
Solo: Declarer plays alone. Scores 4 points.
During and after bidding, any player may call contra to any bid or
announcement to double its score. Any other player may then call
re-contra to double again, and then reply sub-contra to double once
more.
Bonuses
There are two bonuses for having certain cards in your hand, these are
not declared but are claimed after the hand has been played.
If a No Trumps is being played, then a player may score 1 bonus point
for having had all four Kings.
If any other bid is played, then a player may score 1 bonus point for
having had all three honours.
Scoring
Bonuses are paid by each of the other players. If a game is won then the
defenders each pay Declarers side, if lost, then Declarers side pays
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each of the defenders. Announcements, if won are paid by each of the
defenders, if lost, then to each of the defenders.
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5.03.1 Neunzehner-Rufen
The Four player Neunzehner-Rufen still survives, although
when The Game of Tarot was written, Michael Dummett
believed that it had long died out. It is not a bad game but of
interest to me are the three and two player variations. What
distinguishes them from other tarot games is that they use
dummy hands. If youve played bridge or any of the varieties
of dummy whist, then youll know what these are. A dummy
hand is one that is dealt face up to an unoccupied place at
the gaming table. The dummy will be the partner of one of
the actual players in the game, who will play from the hand
at the dummys turn. This may have begun as a nifty way of
making a four player game playable by fewer but the device
does something more than that it releases a lot of informa-
tion and that can add spice to a game. When we were little
and playing whist, the dummys place was actually occupied,
either by my teddy bear or my sisters cuddly rabbit and by
all accounts they were very good players.
The cards
A standard 54 card tarock pack is used with the usual points
using irrational ranking. There are 22 trumps, numbered
I-XXI and the Fool ranking as highest trump. Honours are
the I, XXI, and Fool.
Swords & Batons / Spades & Clubs
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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They are counted in threes minus two to give 70 points in the pack and
a requirement of 36 points or more to win the game.
Deal
First Dealer is chosen at random, deal then moves to the right with each
hand. The top six cards are dealt to the stock, each player is then dealt
two packets of 6 cards.
Bidding
Eldest is obliged to make a positive bid, other players may bid higher or
pass.
Call: Declarer takes the top four cards from the stock and discards four
cards into a scart, the discards may not include Kings, Honours, or,
unless there is no alternative, trumps. The second and fourth players
take one each of the remaining cards from the stock and discard into a
defenders scart according to the same rules. Declarer then calls for the
highest trump below the XX that he/she does not hold. Whichever
player holds that trump is Declarers partner though they may not
announce their identity.
Three Cards: Declarer plays alone against the other three and may take
three cards from the stock according to the following scheme. Declarer
examines the first three cards and if desired, takes them this is playing
at the first level. If the first three are not wanted, then they are placed
face up and the second three are examined and if desired, Declarer takes
them this is playing at the second level. If, after examining the second
three, Declarer would prefer the first three after all then the second three
are placed face up and the original three taken this is playing at the
third level. The remaining cards in the stock count towards the defend-
ers tricks
.
Two Cards: Declarer plays alone against the other three and may take
two cards from the stock according to the scheme described above
except that the cards are examined in twos. This way the game can be
played to the fifth level (where the second pair is taken after examining
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the last two cards). The remaining cards in the stock count towards the
defenders tricks.
One Card: Declarer plays alone against the other three and may take
one card from the stock according to the scheme described above except
that the cards are examined individually. This way the game can be
played up to the eleventh level (where the fifth card is taken after the
sixth has been examined). The remaining cards in the stock count
towards the defenders tricks.
Solo: Declarer plays alone against the other three with the scart count-
ing towards the opponents tricks.
Announcements
Eight: Player has eight or more trumps. Scores 4 points
Ten: Player has ten or more trumps. Scores 8
Twelve: Player has twelve or more trumps. Scores 12
Honours: Player has all three honour cards. Scores 8 points
Kings: Player has all four Kings. Scores 8 points
Royal Honours: Player has four or more Kings and Honours but not
all Honours or Kings (ie, cannot be combined with those respective
bonuses). Scores 12 points
Pagat Ultimo: Contracts the players side to win the last trick with the
Pagat. Scores 10 points
Slam: Contracts the players side to win all the tricks. Scores 20 points
Starting with declarer, players each have a turn to make any announce-
ments before play commences. Contras may be called by players but
only along with their own announcements.
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Play
Declarer leads to the first trick. Play moves to the right, each player in
turn must follow suit or, if they cannot, they must play a trump. If they
can neither follow suit or trump, then they may play any card though
it cannot win. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick unless a
trump was played, then it is the highest trump that wins.
Scores
Declarer must win 36 game points to win the hand, if won, then the
defenders each pay the score to Declarer, or one each pays either the
score to Declarer or his/her partner. There is a base value to the game of
10 points, add to this the number of game points won above or below
35. This sum is then multiplied by the bid:
Call X1
Three Cards X3
Two Cards X4
One Cards X5
Solo X6
If and only if the hand was lost, then the score is further multiplied by
the level at which the game was played. Finally, the score is multiplied
again by any contras made.
5.03.2 Three-handed Game
The deal and bidding are all as for the four player game with the dummy
hand being exposed after the bids and announcements have been made.
If a Call has been bid, then the top four cards are taken by declarer,
while the two other actual players each take one of the remaining cards.
Declarer then calls for the trump below XX that he/she doesnt have. If
held by one of the actual players, that player announces that they are
declarers partner. The dummy hand is then played by the remaining
player. If the called card is in the dummys hand, then declarer treats
dummy as partner and plays from the hand in turn.
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If any of the five high calls are made, then one of the defenders must
volunteer to play from dummys hand.
5.03.3 Tarock for Two Dummies
The deal is as for the four player game with four hands dealt. Dealer and
Opponent sit opposite each other with a dummy hand to each side of
them. There is no bidding round and the dummy hands are both exposed
immediately after the deal is complete. Dealers Opponent must call for
the highest trump below the XX that he/she doesnt hold and that is in
one of the dummy hands. Whichever dummy holds that is Opponents
partner, while Dealer is partnered to the remaining dummy. Opponent
leads to the first trick and players play from their partners hands in turn.
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5.04 Konig Rufen
This game for four players is named, as with the last, for the
possibility of calling a King for a partner. However, there
are some more bids and possible bonuses to be won. Michael
Dummett writes that for many people, Austrian Tarock
means Konigrufen.
Cards
This is played with an Austrian Tarock pack of 54 cards
using irrational ranking. It is made of:
22 Trumps, numbered I-XXI, and the Fool which counts as
the highest trump.
Swords & Batons / Spades & Clubs
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4
The card points are counted in groups of 3 cards, subtracting
2 points for every group. Two odd cards count for 1 less than
their sum and one odd empty card counts for nothing. This
gives at total of 70 card points.
Deal
The first Dealer is chosen at random, deal then moves to the
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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right after each hand. Each player, beginning with Dealers right is dealt
two packets of six cards with the last six being dealt to a stock.
Bidding
Starting with Eldest, each player may bid to play as Declarer, either
against all the other players or with a partner. Eldest has the privilege of
calling I wait, instead of bidding or passing. Eleven bids are open to
all players:
Just One: The stock is ignored, Declarer plays without a partner and
must take just a single trick, no more, no less. If a player is able to win
a trick, then he/she is obliged to do so. Scores 2 points.
Just Two: The stock is ignored, Declarer plays without a partner and
must take just two tricks, no more, no less. If a player is able to win a
trick, then he/she is obliged to do so. Scores 2 points.
Call without the stock: Declarer calls a King for a partner and must
win 36 or more card points to win the hand. The stock goes unseen
towards the defenders tricks. Scores 2 points.
Beggar: The stock is ignored and Declarer contracts to lose every trick.
If a player is able to win a trick, then he/she is obliged to do so. Scores
3 points.
Call and a Bird: Declarer calls a King for a partner and must win 36 or
more card points to win the hand. Declarer may exchange with the stock
for 3 cards and also contracts to win one of the Birds (ie Pagat Ultimo,
The Owl, The Cockatoo, or The Marabou). Scores 2 points plus the
points for the bonus.
Solo: Declarer plays without a partner and must win 36 or more card
points to win the hand. Declarer may exchange with the stock for 3
cards. Scores 4 points.
Just One Exposed: The stock is ignored, Declarer plays without a
partner, must expose his/her hand and must take just a single trick, no
more, no less. If a player is able to win a trick, then he/she is obliged to
do so. Scores 5 points.
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No Trumps: Declarer plays without a partner and must win 36 or more
card points to win the hand. There is no exchange and no trumps the
trump cards work as an ordinary suit. Scores 5 points.
Beggar Exposed: The stock is ignored and Declarer contracts to lose
every trick with his/her cards exposed. If a player is able to win a trick,
then he/she is obliged to do so. Scores 6 points.
Solo and a Bird: Declarer plays without a partner and must win 36 or
more card points to win the hand. Declarer may exchange with the stock
for 3 cards and also contracts to win one of the Birds (ie Pagat Ultimo,
The Owl, The Cockatoo, or The Marabou). Scores 4 points plus the
points for the bonus.
Solo Without: Declarer plays without a partner and must win 36 or
more card points to win the hand. Declarer does not exchange with the
stock. Scores 8 points.
If Eldest called I wait and everyone passes, then Eldest may choose
from three possible plays:
Call: Eldest becomes Declarer, calls a King for a partner and must win
36 or more card points to win the hand. May exchange 3 cards from the
stock. Scores 1 point.
All Beggars: There is no Declarer, players all compete to win the fewest
points. The Pagat may not be played until it is the holding players last
trump. The player who takes the most points loses and must pay each of
the others 1 points. If the player takes more than 36 card points, then this
is doubled.
Solo With: Declarer plays without a partner and must win 36 or more
card points to win the hand. Declarer may exchange six cards with the
stock. Scores 2 points if won but 4 points if lost.
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Calling for Partner
If the bid requires it, then Declarer must call a King and whoever holds
that card is Declarers partner for the hand. As is common in these
games, partner may not identify him/her self in any way but through
playing their hand or by declaring for a bonus (see below). It is accepta-
ble for Declarer to call a card that he/she holds and thus play alone,
though they might have done better to bid a higher contract if they had
such a strong hand. If Declarer has three of the Kings, then the fourth
King can be called, instead of naming the suit. If the called King is in
the stock, then Declarer must play alone.
The Exchange
Some contracts allow Declarer to exchange 3 cards from the stock. The
stock is divided into two groups of three cards, which are then exposed
to all players. Declarer must then choose one group and take those cards
into his/her hand. The remaining three cards will count towards the
defenders tricks at the end. Declarer must then discard 3 cards but may
not discard Honours or Kings and may only discard trumps if there is no
other option, if trumps have to be discarded, they must be declared to
the other players. The discarded cards count towards Declarers tricks
at the end.
Bonuses
After bidding is resolved, then players may, in turn announce for a
bonus. It is not necessary to announce a bonus to win it but if you do,
payment is doubled. Bonuses are won or lost by a team and payments
to or by them are shared.
However, there are rules about who can announce and when. Declarer
may announce freely, as may Declarers partner. However, other play-
ers may only announce if it known that they are opponents. So, if
Declarer had bid to play without a partner, then there is no restriction on
announcing. If Declarer has bid to call for a partner, then unless partner
can announce a bonus, thus identifying him/her self, the other players
cannot announce.
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These four bonuses are called The Birds:
Pagat Ultimo: The last trick is won by the I of trumps. Scores 1.
The Owl: The second to last trick is won by the II of trumps. Scores 2.
The Cockatoo: The third to last trick is won by the III of trumps.
Scores 3.
The Marabou: The fourth to last trick is won by the IV of trumps.
Scores 4.
Other Bonuses:
King Ultimo: Wins the last trick with the called King. Scores 1 point.
Slam: Win all the tricks. Scores the game points x 4.
Honours: Win all three Honours in tricks. Scores 1.
Full Kings: Win all four Kings in tricks. Scores 1.
Captured King: The called King is won in tricks. Scores 1.
Captured Mond: The Mond is won in tricks. Scores 1.
Captured Fool: The Fool is won in tricks. Scores 2.
Play
If the successful bid was to win points, then Eldest leads to the first trick.
If the bid was to avoid winning tricks (which includes bids of just one
etc), then Declarer leads. Play moves to the right, each player in turn
must follow suit or, if they cannot, they must play a trump. If they can
neither follow suit or trump, then they may play any card - though it
cannot win. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick unless a trump
was played, then it is highest trump that wins. However, there is one
exception to this called the Emperor Trick: if all three honour cards are
played to the same trick, then it is the Pagat that wins it.
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Scores
If the hand is won, then Declarers side is paid the score by each of the
defenders. If lost, then Declarers side must pay each defender the score.
Likewise, bonuses are won or lost by a side, not by individuals - unless
Declarer is playing without a partner.
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5.05 Straw Man Tarock
Im not a fan of two player games generally and you wont
find many here. However, this one is rather fun and well
worth learning for when youre short a player or for those
occasions when three would be a crowd.
Cards
The 54 card Austrian pack consists of 22 trump cards num-
bered I-XXI and the Fool, which is the highest trump. There
are then 8 cards in each of the four suits, using irrational
ranking:
Swords & Batons / Spades & Clubs
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4
Cards are counted in groups of three, subtracting 2 points for
each group, two odd empty cards count for 1 and one odd
empty card counts for nothing. There are 70 points in the
pack and a player needs 36 card points or more to win a hand.
Deal
First Dealer is chosen at random, players take turns after.
Each is dealt three packets of 5 cards and has a further three
packets of 4 cards dealt in three separate piles in front of
them. These piles are called the Straw Men.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Bidding
Players examine their hands and starting with Eldest may either bid Ill
Play or pass. Bidding stops when a bid is made. If both pass, play still
continues but the hand is only worth 2 game points. If a player has bid
to be Declarer, then the hand is worth 3 points to Declarer if won but 4
points to the defender if lost.
The Straw Men
Each player now turns the top card of each Straw Man face up. If an
exposed card is a King or a trump, the player takes it into his/her hand
and turns face up the next card on the pile. This is repeated until either
the Straw Men are gone (which is rare but can happen) or the exposed
cards are all suit cards below the value of King. Players may not take a
card into their hand until their opponent has seen it.
The exposed cards are still counted as part of the players hand and when
exposed are subject to the usual rules of play. When a Straw Man card
is played to a trick, the next card on the pile is exposed. As per usual, if
it is a King or trump, the player takes it into his/her hand and exposes
the next card.
Play
If both players passed, then Dealers opponent leads to the first trick.
Otherwise it is Declarer. Players must follow suit if they can or play a
trump if they cannot. If they cannot do either, then they may play any
card - though it will not win.
All 27 tricks are played out and then the card points counted to deter-
mine the winner.
Bonuses
This is where there is most variation in the rules, sometimes suggested
bonuses just dont work in a two player game, however, this selection
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seems to work well in practice. However, none of them may be an-
nounced!
With 45: If Declarer takes at least 45 card points. Scores 4
With 26: If Declarer takes 26 card points or less: Scores 5 for the
defender
Slam: All tricks are taken. Scores 12
The Birds: All score 1 point
Pagat Ultimo: Wins last trick with the Pagat.
An Owl: Wins the penultimate trick with the II
A Cockatoo: Wins the antepenultimate trick with the III
Rostopschin: This is a fun bonus for taking consecutive tricks with the
XVII and the XVIII of trumps. To win it, you must call Ros when
playing the XVII to a trick and then Topschin when playing the XVIII.
Scores 1 point
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5.06 Husarln
A game for three players that is often called Block Tarock.
The title card in the Piatnik Tarock packs list this game and
so I assume it must still be in play. Ive elected to use the
name Husarln as Block Tarock is also the name of another
game, no longer in play, that used as system with blocks to
physically track the scores.
The Cards
A 42 card pack is used, reduced as in the Hungarian games.
There are 22 trumps numbered I-XXI and the Fool which
counts as the highest trump.
Swords & Batons / Spades & Clubs
K, Q, C, V, 10
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1
The card points are counted in groups of three cards, sub-
tracting two cards from each group. Two odd cards count
for 1 less than their value and one odd empty card counts
for nothing. This gives a total of 66 card points in the pack,
a declarer will need 34 points or more to win a hand.
The Deal
First dealer is chosen at random, deal then moves to the
right after each hand, with a game consisting of any multi-
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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ple of three hands. The top six cards are dealt to the stock, each player
is then dealt two packets of six cards.
Bidding
Starting with Eldest, each player may make a bid to play as Declarer
against the other two. There are three available bids.
Two Cards: Declarer examines the first two cards of the stock and if
desired, takes them into his/her hand, this is playing at the first level.
Otherwise, the first to cards are exposed and Dealer examines the next
two cards and, if desired, takes them into his/her hand, this is playing
to the second level. This may continue until all cards are exposed and
the fifth level is played (where all cards have been exposed and the
second two cards are taken). Declarer then discards two cards into
his/her trick pile these may not include Honours, Kings, or, unless
there is no alternative, trumps. If trumps are discarded they must be
exposed to the other players first. The remaining cards of the stock go
unseen (unless already exposed) into the Defenders trick pile. Scores
3 points
One Card: This proceeds as for Two Cards except that the declarer
examines the cards one at a time and takes only one. This way the
game can be played up to the eleventh level. Scores 4 points
Solo: Declarer plays without any cards from the stock, which goes
unseen into the Defenders trick pile. Scores 8 points
Bonuses
Players may now make some declarations about their hand for bonus
points:
10 trumps 1 point
11 trumps 2 points
12 trumps 3 points
All Honours 3 points
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A player may also announce to win a Pagat Ultimo for 10 points,
though this may also be won unannounced for 5 points.
If a Solo game is being played, then all bonuses are doubled.
Play
Declarer leads to the first trick. Play moves to the right, each player in
turn must follow suit or, if they cannot, they must play a trump. If they
can neither follow suit or trump, then they may play any card though
it cannot win. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick unless a
trump was played, then it is the highest trump that wins.
Scores
The declarer wins or loses from or to each of the defenders, points over
or below the 34 card points required to win. As mentioned, these
points, won or lost, are doubled if Solo is played.
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5.07 Cego
Cego is the last surviving true tarot game in Germany. Now,
not even the name connects it to tarot, only the cards that few
recognise. I have read that the game is still very popular in
parts of South West Germany but I suspect that it is quite
limited to the region, I have known Germans from Dussel-
dorf, Hamburg, Berlin, and Munich but none had ever heard
of Cego, and the cards were unknown to them. Packs of
Cego cards are sold in two varieties, one that features the
usual sort of rural scenes, albeit somewhat more baroque
than others, and one featuring animals. The games distin-
guishing feature is that instead of a stock, there is dealt a
cego, which is considered a fifth hand. The cego is, in most
bids, used much as a stock but players can bid to play with
the cego instead of their dealt hand.
Cards
The Cego pack is the Austrian standard 54 card pack using
irrational ranking.
There are 22 trumps numbered I-XXI and the highest trump,
the Fool, which is un-numbered.
Swords & Batons / Spades & Clubs
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4
The cards are counted in groups of 3, subtracting 2 points
from each group. This makes for 70 card points in the pack.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Deal
The first Dealer is chosen at random, usually by cutting the cards. Deal
then moves to the right after each hand. Dealer's left cuts the cards, ten
cards are dealt to the cego in the middle of the table then each player
receives 11 cards in a single packet.
Bidding
There are two rounds of bidding. Players each bid in turn starting with
Eldest. They may pass or bid:
Solo: Declarer plays alone against the other three players, the cego goes
unseen by all and counts towards Declarers tricks at the end. Declarer
must have over 35 card points to win the hand and scores for each point
over 35 multiplied by 2 from each player. If the hand is lost then
Declarer loses only by the number of points below 35 to each player.
Pagat Ultimo: If this is bid, then the auction ends without a second
round. Declarer places the Pagat face up on the table and contracts to
win the last trick with it. If won, each player pays Declarer 80 points. If
lost, Declarer pays each player 80 points.
There then begins another round of bidding. Players who passed in the
first round may still bid in the second round. If all players passed in the
first round, then Eldest must begin the auction by bidding either:
Cego: Declarer discards all but two cards (any cards may be discarded)
and picks up the cego. Declarer then discards one more cards to make
the hand eleven. The discards will count towards Declarers tricks at the
end. Declarer must win over 35 points to win the game, other players
must pay 1 point each for every point over 35. If the hand is lost then
Declarer loses only by the number of points below 35 to each player.
However, if this is bid against a solo, then scores won or lost are doubled.
Or
One Trick: If this is bid, then the auction ends. Declarer contracts to
win just win trick - no more, no less. If won, then 30 points are paid by
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each defender. If lost, then 30 points are paid to each defender.
Or
Beggar: If this is bid, then the auction ends. Declarer contracts to lose
every trick in the game. If won, then 30 points are paid by each defender.
If lost, then 30 points are paid to each defender.
If Eldest bid cego, then there is an opportunity for other players to
outbid it with:
Just One: Declarer keeps just one card from the hand dealt and discards
the rest. Declarer then takes the cego and plays with these eleven cards.
The discards count towards Declarers tricks at the end. Declarer needs
over 35 points to win the game, other players must pay 1 point each for
every point over 35 multiplied by two. If the hand is lost, then Declarer
loses only by the number of points below 35, again multiplied by two,
to each player. However, if this is bid against a solo, then scores won or
lost are multiplied by 3 rather than 2.
One Pip: Declarer keeps one pip card which is placed face up on the
table, discards the rest of the hand dealt and plays using the cego instead.
The exposed card must be led to the first trick. The discards count
toward Declarers tricks at the end. Points won or lost are multiplied by
3 or by 4 if a Solo was bid in the first round.
Two Pips: Declarer keeps two pip cards of the same suit which are then
placed face up on the table, discards the rest of the hand and plays using
the cego after discarding one more card - this must be the lowest trump.
The exposed cards must be played to the first two tricks that Declarer
leads to. Discards count towards Declarers tricks at the end. Points won
or lost are multiplied by 4 or by 5 if Solo was bid in the first round.
Different Pips: Declarer keeps two pip cards of two different suits and
places them face up on the table, discards the rest of the hand and plays
using the cego after discarding one more card - this must be the highest
trump. The exposed cards must be played to the first two tricks that
Declarer leads to. Discards count towards Declarers tricks at the end.
Points won or lost are multiplied by 5 or by 6 if Solo was bid in the first
round.
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Pagat First: Declarer places the Pagat face up on the table, discards the
rest of the hand and plays with the cego instead. The Pagat must be
played to the first trick. Discards count towards Declarers tricks at the
end. Points won or lost are multiplied by 6 or by 7 if Solo was bid in the
first round.
One Trick: See above.
Beggar: See above.
If Solo was bid in the first round, then the next highest bid is Cego,
though the next permitted bid is Just One.
If Eldest has bid Cego after all passed in the first round and all others
pass again in the second round, then Eldest may choose to change the
play to one of these three types to punish anyone who should have bid
but failed to:
The Beggars Play: The cego is ignored and there is no Declarer.
Players compete to capture the fewest card points. The player that
captures the most loses the hand and must pay each of the other players
30 game points.
Careless Beggars: As with The Beggars Play but players must play
trumps to the first three tricks. If they are held, then the Fool must be
played to the first trick, the Mond to the second, and the Pagat to the
third. If a player hasnt any trumps to play to any of these three tricks
then they must play pip cards to them - ie they cannot use the chance to
discard courts! Again, whoever wins the most points must pay each of
the other players 30 game points.
The Bitter End: The object is to avoid winning the last trick - whoever
does win it, must pay the other three players 30 game points.
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5.08 Czech Taroky
The US has benefited in many ways from its history of
immigration and it is thanks to that history that Tarot games
do exist there today. One of these games is the Czech variety,
related to zwanzig-rufen and which is played in Texas. I
gather that the Texan players do use the Czech terminology
but I hope they will forgive me for sticking to my Anglicized
terms here.
I have recently learned that a variation of this game is
played in Poland.
Cards
This is played with an Austrian Tarock pack of 54 cards
using irrational ranking. It is made of:
22 Trumps, numbered I-XXI, and the Fool which counts as
the highest trump.
Swords & Batons / Spades & Clubs
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4
The card points are counted in groups of 3 cards, subtracting
2 points for every group. Two odd cards count for 1 less than
their sum and one odd empty card counts for nothing. This
gives at total of 70 card points. The Declarer needs to take
36 points to win the hand.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Deal
The first Dealer is chosen at random, deal then moves to the right after
each hand. The first 6 cards are dealt to a stock, each player is then dealt
two packets of 6 cards.
Bidding
Starting with Eldest, each player may bid to play as Declarer, either
against all the other players or with a partner. There are four bids that
can be made, though the first bid is only available to Eldest.
First Contract: Declarer calls the XIX and whichever player has the
card is Declarers partner - though they may not reveal it. If Declarer has
the XIX then he/she must call the highest trump below XIX that he/she
doesnt have or call XIX to play without a partner. If Declarer has no
lower trump than the XVI, then XIX must be called.
Declarer then takes the top four cards from the stock, with the two
players to Declarers right each taking one of the last two. The players
then discard as many cards as they took from the stock, they may not
discard Honours or Kings, and may only discard trumps if they have no
alternative, in which case they must show them to the other players. The
cards discarded will count to tricks of that players side.
If Declarer draws the called trump from the stock, then he/she can
choose to abandon the hand and pay each of the other players 5 game
points.
Second Contract: This is played as First Contract except that there is
no option to abandon the hand if the called trump is in the stock. Further,
Declarer must then announce for a Pagat Ultimo.
Preference: Declarer plays without a partner and takes three cards from
the stock according to the following scheme
First Level: Declarer first examines the top three cards of the stock and
takes them if desired.
Second Level: Otherwise, they are placed face up and the second three
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cards are examined and taken if desired.
Third Level: If Declarer prefers to take the first three after all, then the
second three cards are placed face up and the first three taken.
Declarer then discards according the rules for First Contract and the
remaining cards of the stock will count to the defenders tricks at the end.
The level of the draw will affect the score for the bid.
Solo: Declarer plays alone and the stock goes unseen towards the
defenders tricks at the end.
Bonuses
Players may declare combinations of cards in their hand for bonus game
points to be paid by all the other players. However, this can give away
valuable information about a hand.
No Trumps: Player hold no trumps or just the Pagat. Scores
5 points
Low Trumps: Player hold only one or two trumps excluding
the Pagat. Scores 5 points
Full Trumps: Player has between 10 to 12 trumps. Scores 10
points
Half Trumps: Player has 8 or 9 trumps. Scores 5 points
Honours: Player has all three honours. Scores 5 points
Full Kings: Player has all four Kings. Scores 10 points
Half Kings: Player has any four of the 5 points cards. Scores
5 points
Any of these may be combined.
Announcements
These can be won unannounced for a lower score.
Pagat Ultimo: Player wins the last trick with the Pagat. 5 points
unannounced 10 points announced.
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Slam: Player wins every trick. Doubles the value of the game unan-
nounced, quadruples the value if announced.
Contras
Players may call contra to the bid or to any announcement to double
its value, any player may reply re-contra to double it a second time,
and then sub-contra to double for a third and last time. I always warn
player to think hard about allowing contras if they are playing for
money, they can raise the score considerably. If you are playing for
money, then I recommend that you at least consider disallowing the
Slam as an announcement.
Play
Declarer leads to the first trick and play moves to the right. Each player
in turn must follow suit or, if they cannot, they must play a trump. If
they can neither follow suit or trump, then they may play any card -
though it cannot win. The highest card of the led suit wins the trick
unless a trump was played, then it is highest trump that wins.
Scores
The score for a game is based on the overscore, that is the card points
won over or below 35. If 35 or below, then Declarer is paying these
points to each of the defenders, if over 35, then each defender pays
Declarer. If there is a partner, then the costs and rewards are shared
equally.
If First or Second Contract is played, then the game score is equal to the
overscore.
If Preference is played, then the game score is equal to the overscore
multiplied by the level it was played at.
If Solo was played, the game score is double the overscore.
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5.09.1 Slovenian Tarock
Developed from the Austrian game of Knigrufen, this has
enough differences to make it individual with an excellent
feature to punish those who not brave enough to bid. The
usual version played is the four player but there is a strategi-
cally more demanding three player version.
Cards
This is played with an Austrian Tarock pack of 54 cards
using irrational ranking. It is made of:
22 Trumps, numbered I-XXI, and the Fool which counts as
the highest trump.
Swords & Batons / Spades & Clubs
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8, 7
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4
The card points are counted in groups of 3 cards, subtracting
2 points for every group. Two odd cards count for 1 less than
their sum and one odd empty card counts for nothing. This
gives at total of 70 card points.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Rings
This is an unusual feature that affects the players scores quite dramatical-
ly. When drawing up a score sheet, a row is draw below each players
name and above where the scores are tallied. When a bid or bonus
marked with an * is played, then a ring is drawn in this row for each
player. When a ring is used to affect the score, it is filled in.
Deal
The first Dealer is chosen at random, the deal moves to the right. The
first 6 cards are dealt to the table as a stock, then each player receives
two packets of 6 cards. If one player has been dealt no trumps, then they
must declare this, the hand thrown in, re-dealt and played as a All
Beggars (see bids below) without any bidding or bonuses.
Bidding
Starting with Eldests right, each player may bid to play as Declarer,
either against all the other players or with a partner.
Call With Two: Declarer may call a King for a partner and exchange
two cards with the stock. Scores 20
Call With One: Declarer may call a King for a partner and exchange
one card with the stock. Scores 30
Solo With Three: Declarer plays without a partner and exchanges three
cards with the stock. Scores 40
Solo With Two: Declarer plays without a partner and exchanges two
cards with the stock. Scores 50
Solo With One: Declarer plays without a partner and exchanges one
card with the stock. Scores 60
*Beggar: The stock is ignored. Declarer plays without a partner and
contracts to lose every trick. There are no bonuses allowed, players must
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play to win a trick if they can, they may not play the Pagat unless they
have no other legal card to play or unless it is to the Emperor Trick (see
bonuses below). Scores 70
*Solo Without: Declarer plays without a partner and does not exchange
with the stock. Scores 80
*Beggar Exposed: The stock is ignored. Declarer plays without a
partner and contracts to lose every trick with all his/her cards exposed.
There are no bonuses allowed, players must play to win a trick if they
can, they may not play the Pagat unless they have no other legal card to
play or unless it is to the Emperor Trick (see bonuses below). Scores 90
*Colour Slam Without: Declarer plays without a partner, does not
exchange with the stock and contracts to win every trick. There are no
bonuses and trumps lose their ability to trump, instead they are treated
like a normal suit. Scores 125
*Slam Without: Declarer plays without a partner, does not exchange
with the stock and contracts to win every trick. Scores 500
If any of the players have bid, then Eldest may now claim priority and
take the bid for him/her self. If all players pass, then Eldest must choose
from either:
*All Beggars: The stock is ignored, all play alone to take as few points
as possible, players must play to win a trick if they can, they may not
play the Pagat unless they have no other legal card to play or unless it is
to the Emperor Trick (see bonuses below). Players lose as many game
points as they win card points.
Call With Three: Eldest is Declarer, may call a King for a partner and
exchange three cards with the stock. Scores 10
Calling for Partner
If the bid requires it, then Declarer must call a King and whoever holds
that card is Declarers partner for the hand. As is common in these
games, partner may not identify him/her self in any way but through
playing their hand or by declaring for a bonus (see below). It is accepta-
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ble for Declarer to call a card that he/she holds and thus play alone,
though they might have been better to bid a higher contract if they had
such a strong hand. If Declarer has three of the Kings, then the forth
King can be called, instead of naming the suit. If the called King is in
the stock, then Declarer must play alone.
Exchange
If the Declarer has bid to exchange one card, then the stock is exposed
and Declarer has free choice of the cards. If the Declarer has bid to
exchange two cards, then the stock is divided into three groups of two
cards and exposed. Declarer must pick two grouped cards. If the Declar-
er has bid to exchange 3 cards, then the stock is divided into two groups
of three. Declarer must pick three grouped cards. The remainder of the
stock will count towards the opponents tricks at the end of the game.
Declarer must then discard a number of cards equal to those taken from
the stock. The discarded cards may not include Honours or Kings and
may only include other trumps if there is no choice, in which case the
discarded trumps must be shown to the other players.
Should the called King be found in the stock and Declarer takes the card
as part of the exchange, then there is a chance for Declarer to win the
remainder of the stock for his/her own trick pile. If, after taking the King,
Declarer can win a trick with it, then the stock cards are won with the
trick.
With the exchange completed, then if no partner has been called, Declar-
er has one further privilege, to raise the play bid to a *Colour Slam:
In this case, Declarer contracts to win every trick. There are no bonuses
and trumps lose their ability to trump, instead they are treated like a
normal suit. Scores 125
Bonuses
Bonus points are awarded for the following feats but the points are
doubled if they are announced directly after the bidding and exchange
are finished. These are awarded as game points rather than card points
and so they do not count towards winning a hand.
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Honours: Take all three honours in tricks. Scores 10 points
Full Kings: Take all four kings in tricks. Scores 10 points
King Ultimo: Win the last trick with the called King. Scores 10 points
Pagat Ultimo: Win the last trick with the Pagat. Scores 25 points
*Slam: Take all tricks. The bid and other bonuses do not score if this is
won, or if it was announced and lost. Scores 250
Play
If a bid lower than Beggar is being played (this includes All Beggars
and Call With Three), then Eldest leads to the first trick - otherwise,
Declarer leads. Play moves to the right, each player in turn must follow
suit or, if they cannot, they must play a trump. If they can neither follow
suit or trump, then they may play any card - though it cannot win. The
highest card of the led suit wins the trick unless a trump was played,
then it is highest trump that wins. However, there is one exception to
this called the Emperor trick: if all three honour cards are played to the
same trick, then it is the Pagat that wins it.
There is a fixed penalty of 20 game points for losing the Mond to a
player in the other team, payable to the winner of the trick.
Scores
Finally, those rings come into play! If the bid was won and Declarer has
an outstanding ring, then the points for the hand and any bonuses played
to it are doubled and the ring is cancelled by filling it in. If the bid was
lost, then, if Declarer has an outstanding ring, the points are still
doubled but the ring is not cancelled.
Where there are partnerships, the risks and rewards by winning the hand
and any bonuses are shared equally.
For all bids over and including Beggar, the game score is fixed. If the
bid is won, this is paid by each of the defenders to the winning side. If
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lost, the defenders are each paid this.
For Calls and Solos with an exchange, the hand is won by winning 36
or more card points. The points won or lost are equal to the bids score
plus the difference in points over or below 35. Again, if won, this is paid
by each of the defenders to the winning side. If lost, the defenders are
each paid this.
After this, bonuses are scored.
If, after the scores are tallied, a players score is exactly 0, or equals any
multiple of 500, then the next hand is played as All Beggars - no bidding,
no bonuses.
Ending the Game
This is why those rings are important. If, after the game reaches its
agreed end, any player has any unused rings, then they must pay each
of the other players 100 points for each ring. A harsh punishment for not
bidding to play!
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5.09.2 Tarock for Three
Deal
The first six cards are dealt to the stock. The players are then dealt 16
cards in two packets of eight cards.
Bidding
There are no partnership bids available, leaving:
Solo With Three: Declarer plays without a partner and exchanges three
cards with the stock. Scores 10
Solo With Two: Declarer plays without a partner and exchanges two
cards with the stock. Scores 20
Solo With One: Declarer plays without a partner and exchanges one
card with the stock. Scores 30
*Beggar: The stock is ignored. Declarer plays without a partner and
contracts to lose every trick. There are no bonuses allowed, players must
play to win a trick if they can, they may not play the Pagat unless they
have no other legal card to play or unless it is to the Emperor Trick.
Scores 70
*Beggar Exposed: The stock is ignored. Declarer plays without a
partner and contracts to lose every trick with all his/her cards exposed.
There are no bonuses allowed, players must play to win a trick if they
can, they may not play the Pagat unless they have no other legal card to
play or unless it is to the Emperor Trick. Scores 90
*Colour Slam Without: Declarer plays without a partner, does not
exchange with the stock and contracts to win every trick. There are no
bonuses and trumps lose their ability to trump, instead they are treated
as a normal suit. Scores 125
*Slam Without: Declarer plays without a partner, does not exchange
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with the stock and contracts to win every trick. Scores 500
If all players pass, then All Beggars is played.
Bonuses can be announced and played as for four players.
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5.10 Point Tarock
Another 3 player game, this time with a reputation for being
a little more convoluted than the others, though I cannot
agree. If this does seem a little complicated at first, please,
dont be put off too quickly. Read the rules through a couple
of times and everything will fall into place - you should
however be familiar with at least tapp tarock before attempt-
ing this one.
I have two sources for this. The first is an all too brief
booklet published by Piatnik. The second is that by Michael
Dummett. Ive made things easy as possible by selecting
from the many variations those that seemed to play best.
Cards
The 54 card Austrian pack consists of 22 trump cards num-
bered I-XXI and the Fool, which is the highest trump. There
are then 8 cards in each of the four suits, using irrational
ranking:
Swords & Batons / Spades & Clubs
K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8 , 7
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4
Cards are counted in groups of three, subtracting 2 points for
each group. There are 70 points in the pack. A Declarer must
win 36 points to win a hand.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Deal
First Dealer is chosen at random, with deal moving to the right after
each hand. The first six cards are dealt to the stock, then each player
receives four packets of 4 cards.
Bidding
There is a short round of bidding to determine who shall play as Declarer
against the other two who will be the defenders. There are five available
bids
Three Cards x1
Also Three x2
Two Cards x3
One Card x4
Solo x8
The multiplier next to each bid is used to determine the final game score.
Three Cards: Declarer exposes the entire stock to all players and
chooses either the first three or the second three to take into his/her hand.
The remaining cards of the stock will count towards the defenders
tricks at the end. Declarer then discards three cards that may not include
either Honours or Kings and will count towards his/her tricks at the end.
Also Three: Played exactly the same as Three and may only be called
to over-bid a call of Three Cards.
Two Cards: The same as Three Cards but Declarer takes either the first
two cards of the stock, or the middle two, or the last two. The discard is,
of course, two cards.
One Card: The same as Three Cards but Declarer takes only one card
from the stock and makes a discard of just one.
Solo: The stock goes unseen to one side and counts towards the defend-
ers tricks at the end.
An elder player who is outbid may call I hold and take the higher bid
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for him/her self. Any player who has passed may not bid again - but they
may make a contra. (see below)
If all players pass, then a Beggars game is played to punish anyone who
could have bid at least Three Cards. All play for themselves to avoid
winning points but must take a trick if they can. The player who wins
the most points is the loser and the other two each score game points
equal to the difference between the card points they won and those of
the loser.
Bonuses & Announcements
For All: Six bonuses are available to all players. The first four are
declarations for having cards in your hand after any discard. The cards
do not have to be shown and I would suggest that if someone makes a
declaration and is found not to have the cards, then the other two players
should score for double the points instead.
Honours: If a player has all three Honours. Scores 3
Half Honours: If a player has any two Honours. Scores 2
Kings: If a player has all four Kings. Scores 5
Half Kings: If a player has three Kings. Scores 3 (this last one is my
own addition - we found it to work well, I leave it up to you if you wish
to include it)
There are three Ultimos that may be won:
Pagat Ulitmo: A player wins the last trick with the Pagat. Scores 5
The Owl: A Player wins the last trick with the II of trumps. Scores 10
The Cockatoo: A Player wins the last trick with the III of trumps. Scores
15
If one of these cards is played to the last trick and loses, then it is
considered to be a failed attempt and the other two players score for it.
For Declarer Only: There are seven announcements that may be made
by the Declarer only. These announcements may be made either before
or after drawing cards from the stock.
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Announcements before the draw are made as part of a bid and are worth
double the points. If the bid with which the announcement was made is
outbid, then the announcement is void.
Before the Draw After the Draw
Ultimos:
Pagat 20 10
Owl 40 20
Cockatoo 60 30
Conditions to Win:
With 40 10 5
With 50 40 20
Without Honours 20 10
Without Kings 20 10
As anything else in this game, if the Declarer fails any announcement,
each of the defenders scores the points for it.
When announcing an Ultimo, Declarer places the declared trump face
up and may not play it to any trick but the last unless forced to do so.
With 40: Declarer contracts to win at least 40 card points.
With 50: Declarer contracts to win at least 50 card points.
Without Honours: Declarer contracts to win the game without having
any Honours in his/her hand or discards.
Without Kings: Declarer contracts to win the game without having any
Kings in his/her hand or discards.
If either of the last two announcements are made before the draw, then
the relevant cards cannot be taken from the stock. However, if the
conditions of the draw force a relevant card to be taken (for example, if
Three Cards is bid and Without Kings announced but each of the two
groups in the stock contains a King), the Declarer has lost both the
announcement and the hand!
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If With 40 is announced before the draw, it is legal for Declarer to
announce With 50 after the draw as well and both announcements may
score.
Play
Declarer leads to the first trick with play moving to the right, each
player in turn must follow suit or, if they cannot, they must play a trump.
If they can neither follow suit or trump, then they may play any card -
though it cannot win. The highest card of the led suit wins the trick
unless a trump was played, then it is the highest trump that wins.
Contras
If you wish to allow them, these can raise the score considerably - so be
wary if you are playing for money! During the bidding round, a player
may call contra to any bid or announcement that is made. The bidder
may, in turn re-contra and any other player may call sub-contra.
Each contra will multiply the points for an announcement or bid (being
the Basic Score + Over Score) by 4. Also, any contra but the bidders
re-contra is considered a pass.
Contras may also be made (following the same scheme - with Declarer
only able to re-contra) after the draw to either the bid or any announce-
ment made. However, a contra made at this stage will multiply the score
by 2.
Scoring
In this game, players only make positive scores. So, if Declarer wins an
announcement, he/she scores points for it - but the other players do not
deduct anything from their own score. At the end of a game, each player
settles up with each of the other players according to the difference in
the game points they have won. Obviously, this scheme was created for
gambling.
For each hand, players receive a Raw Score which is then multiplied
according to Declarers bid. This Raw Score is itself made up of:
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Basic Score = 2 + the number of bids made during the bidding round.
This is scored by Declarer if the bid is won and scored by the defenders
if lost. A call of I hold is not counted as a bid.
Over Score = the number of card points won by Declarer over or above
35. Scored by Declarer if the bid is won or scored by the defenders if
lost.
Bonuses: There are six bonuses available to all players discussed above.
Announcements: There are seven feats that Declarer can contract to
achieve by announcing them with his/her bid or after any discard.
Bids and announcements may be subject to contras, increasing their
score significantly.
The game points won for a hand = the total Raw Score (after any contras
have been applied) x the multiplier for the bid made.
For most of the games you will have played, a game will require that
each player has been Dealer an equal number of times. Here, a game
ends when one or more players scores over 100 points. Any player(s)
who has made 100 is awarded a bonus of 10 points and everyone settles
up. If play continues then scoring is begun from scratch.
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The Games Part V
The Hungarian games have become very highly thought of and recog-
nized for their emphasis on great strategy. Michael Dummett chose
them to complete his selection of games in The Game of Tarot, finding
them to be the finest of all tarot games. Over the years since the
publication of that book, there have been important developments in the
Hungarian game with the arrival of Royal Tarokk, a game created for
tournament play. These games deserve to be better known, although not
my favourites, there is no denying a great deal of genius in them and
Royal is certainly the height of strategy in tarot play and one of the most
interesting partnership games Ive ever come across.
The games can be broadly divided into two groups. The first are all
based on a common set of rules, differing only in their announcements.
I have chosen to begin with these common rules and then list the three
individual games in sequence, each one adding to the announcements
of the last. The second group consist of Royal Tarokk and those games
that are an amalgam of that and the older style of play. Sadly, I am still
missing rules to some of the games in this later group but can provide
rules for Royal and one of the two versions of Emperor.
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6.1.0 Hungarian Tarokk: Basic Rules
There are just four bids but with strict rules on how those
bids are made, so releasing information about your hand. It
is a four player game with temporary partnerships played
with a very short pack of just 42 cards.
There is one unusual piece of equipment you shall have to
find - a very silly hat. The hat is called by Dummett, a dunces
hat but by other sources, the mayors hat and whoever
should lose the XXI of trumps in a trick is called The Mayor
and must wear the hat until someone else makes the same
mistake. Of course, this mistake can happen to the best of
players, playing a faultless game, so the award is really just
a friendly jest and adds a little unique character to the game.
I have read comments in internet forums and blogs, from
people saying that they were discouraged from learning this
one because of the complexity of the rules. Im not convinced
that it really is all that complicated but some games only
really become clear from playing them. I have done my best
to make everything as clear as possible, unpicking what
some have found difficult and very much hope that you will
at least give this one a go.
Cards
This is usually played with a French suited Austrian pack,
with all but one of the pips removed in each suit and using
irrational ranking.
There are 22 trumps numbered I-XXI with the highest trump,
the Fool, un-numbered.
Swords & Batons / Spades & Clubs
K, Q, C, V, 10
Cups & Coins / Hearts & Diamonds
K, Q, C, V, 1
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The cards are counted individually, so there are 94 points in the pack
Deal
Six cards are dealt to a stock pile then each player receives one batch of
5 cards and one batch of 4.
Bidding
There are only four bids available but rules for making them can be a
little convoluted should you wish to use the round to arrange a partner-
ship. The bids are:
3 Cards for 1 game point
2 Cards for 2 game points
1 Card for 3 game points
Without for 4 game points
These refer to the number of cards from the stock that the Declarer may
improve his/her hand with.
Bidding begins with Eldest and moves to the right, finishing when
someone bids Without or three players pass. Players must have at least
one Honour to be allowed to bid. If all pass, then the hand is thrown in,
re-dealt and played for double game points. Players may not bid higher
than one bid above any already bid - except when inviting a partner. So,
Eldest must either pass or bid 3 Cards, if 3 Cards is bid, then the next
player may either pass or bid 2 Cards, and so forth. If a player has bid
but is then outbid by another player, he/she can claim the higher bid for
him/her self by calling hold on their next turn.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Invitation Bids
It may be that you have a hand that is not good enough for you to want
to be Declarer yourself but good enough for you to feel confident as a
Declarers partner. You can indicate this by making an invitation to call
you as partner by the way that you bid. There are strict rules governing
how this is done and when you can do this:
To be allowed to make an invitation bid you must hold an Honour. There
are two possible invitations you can make and you must also have the
card that an invitation requires, these invitations are also called jump
bids because they require you to bid higher than the rules would
otherwise demand.
Partner with XIX
If you hold the XIX of trumps you can invite by bidding one higher than
required. So, if 3 Cards has been bid, then you must bid 1 Card to
make the invitation. If someone out bids you or calls hold, then they
accept your invitation and must call XIX for a partner after the discard.
Partner with XVIII
If you hold the XVIII of trumps you can invite by bidding two higher
than required. Be cautious though, if 3 Cards has been bid, you must
bid Without so that the only way your invitation can be accepted is
with a call of hold.
Invitation bids are a nice addition to the game but do carry a risk. If your
invitation isnt accepted, then you can end up having to play as Declarer
after all.
Discard
If Declarer bid to take from the stock, then he/she draws the number bid
from the top of the stock pile and discards the same number from his/her
hand. Honours and Kings may never be discarded, if any trumps are to
be discarded then they must be shown to the other players. This scart
counts towards Declarers tricks. Unless Without was bid, each of the
other players may draw one card from the stock and discard to the same
rule to a defenders scart - the remaining cards from the stock also go to
this scart. If Without was bid, then the defenders take 2 cards each
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according to the same rules.
Once the discard is complete and the hands finalized, a player may
decide that their hand is so bad that it isnt viable to play. If the hand
meets one of these conditions, then they are allowed to annul the hand -
in which case the cards are re-dealt and points for the new deal are
doubled.
1. No trumps
2. The Pagat and no other trumps
3. XXI and no other trumps
4. All four kings
Calling a Partner
Unless accepting an invitation, Declarer should normally call for the
XX of trumps and whoever has that card in their hand will be partner.
Partner may not announce him/her self - their identity must be revealed
by their play. If the XX is in a scart or if it is held by Declarer, then the
lowest trump below XX that Declarer does not have must be called for.
If any of the other players discarded a trump, then Declarer may call for
any trump, excluding Honours.
If the called trump has been discarded, the player who discarded it must
call contra to the game.
If Declarer accepted an invitation in the bidding round, then the card for
that bid must be called.
Bonuses
Either side, as a team, can score points - or lose them - from bonuses.
For extra points, they can all be announced before play begins.
After any announcements have been made, any of the defenders may
call contra to either the game or to one of the announcements, dou-
bling its score. Any player may then call re-contra to double it a
second time, re-contra can be called three times, then sub-contra
may be called to end the doubling at x32! Contras can raise the score
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significantly - if you are playing for money, think before you
allow them in play. You may wish to limit the contras to just
one or two. At least one should be allowed as they impart
information - only a defender may make the first contra, not
Declarers partner.
Play
Declarer leads to the first trick. Play moves to the right and
players in turn must play a card of the led suit. If they cannot
follow suit, then they must play a trump. If they cannot play
a trump, then they may play any card - though it cannot win.
If a player has announced for a Pagat Ultimo, they may not
play the Pagat to any trick before the last one unless the rules
force it. The highest card of the led suit wins the trick unless
a trump has been played, then the highest trump wins.
Scores
To win the hand, a team must take at least 48 card points.
6.1.1 Hungarian Tarokk I: Paskievics
Honours: A bonus for winning all the honour cards in your
tricks. 2 points announced, 1 point unannounced.
Kings: A bonus for winning all four Kings in your tricks. 2
points announced, 1 point unannounced.
High Game: A bonus for taking 71 card points or more.
Payment for the hand is quadrupled if announced and dou-
bled if unannounced.
Slam: A bonus for winning all the tricks. Payment for the
hand is multiplied by 6 if announced, and tripled if unan-
nounced. A team that declares a Slam, cannot declare Hon-
ours or Kings. A team that wins a Slam does not score for
Honours or Kings.
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Pagat Ultimo: A bonus for winning the last trick with the Pagat. 10
points if announced, 5 points if unannounced.
Mond: A bonus for capturing the opponents Mond. Scores 40 points
announced, 20 points unannounced.
6.1.2 Hungarian Tarokk II: Palatine
This game is essentially the same as Paskievics Tarokk but with six
additional bonuses available. It doesnt seem a great departure but they
add quite a lot to play, they represent a lot of extra points but require a
lot of skill to win. It marks the start of the evolution of Hungarian
Tarokk which has developed into Royal by ever increasing the emphasis
on the bonuses that may be played for.
The extra bonuses are:
First Five: The team must take the first five tricks - the last one must be
won by the XX.
10 points announced, 5 points un-announced.
First Six: The team must take the first six tricks - the last one must be
won by the XXI.
12 points announced, 6 points un-announced.
First Seven: The team must take the first seven tricks - the last one must
be won by the Fool.
14 points announced, 7 points un-announced.
First Eight: The team must take the first eight tricks - the last one must
be won by the Pagat.
20 points announced, 10 points un-announced.
King Ultimo suit: The last trick must be taken by the King of the
declared suit. This bonus must be announced to score. 15 points.
King Penultimo suit: The penultimate (8
th
) trick must be won by the
King of the declared suit. This bonus must be announced to score.
20 points.
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6.1.3 Hungarian Tarokk III: Magus
Owl Ultimo: A bonus for winning the last trick with the II of trumps.
5 points unannounced, 10 points announced.
Owl Penultimo: A bonus for winning the next to last trick with the II
of trumps. This bonus must be announced to score. 20 points.
Two Little Birds: A bonus for winning the last two tricks with the I and
the II of trumps. The trumps may be played to either trick but if won,
any Pagat Ultimo, Owl Ultimo, or Owl Penultimo cannot score as well.
The bonus must be announced to score. 40 points.
Large Bird With...: the Pagat, the Owl, or a King. A bonus for winning
the seventh trick with the declared card (which King is not specified).
This bonus must be announced to score. 30 points.
Little Bird with...: the Pagat, the Owl, or a King. A bonus for winning
the sixth trick with the declared card (which King is not specified). This
bonus must be announced to score. 40 points.
Pagat Pheasant: A bonus for winning the first trick with the Pagat.
10 points unannounced, 50 points announced.
Owl Pheasant: A bonus for winning the first trick with the Owl.
10 points unannounced, 50 points announced.
Brace of Pheasants: A bonus for winning the first trick with the XXI,
capturing both the Pagat and the Owl. It may be won unannounced for
30 points if the Pagat and Owl are played by the opponents of the player
with the XXI. It may be won announced for 60 points, regardless of who
plays the Pagat and Owl. However, it may only be announced by an
opponent of the player who will lead to the trick.
A Family of...: suit. A bonus for winning the last three tricks with cards
of the specified suit. Must be announced to score. 100 points.
Three Kings: A bonus for winning each of the last three tricks with one
of the Kings. Must be announced to score. 100 Points.
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6.2 Hungarian Tarokk: Emperor
There are now two versions of this game, both combining the
earlier Hungarian games with elements of Royal Tarokk, I
have no dates but as Royal was developed in the mid 1980s,
it cannot be more than 20 years old. Like Royal, the later
version drops the card points and includes some of the
trophies winning trophies in that game is recognized by
Royal players and is recorded accordingly. At this time, I do
not have access to the rules of the latter game, however, I
have been able to gather enough information about the
earlier version to attempt a reconstruction of the rules.
There may be some small errors from lack of information but
I am confident that this is more or less a complete account.
While it shares many of the same basic rules as the preceding
games, there are enough differences, albeit small, to war-
rant treatment as a distinct game.
If you are looking to add something more to Paskievicks or
Palatine tarokks but dont want to go as far as Royal, then,
like Magus Tarokk, this could be your answer. In any case,
it does seem to have been more popular than Magus Tarokk.
The Cards
This game is played with a reduced pack of 46 cards. All 22
trumps are used, along with 6 cards in each of the suits:
Spades & Clubs / Swords and Batons
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9
Hearts & Diamonds / Cups & Coins
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 1, 2
The standard card points are used with the exception of the
9s and 2s which score 0, so the card points still total 94 and
those required to win is unchanged at 48.
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Deal
Six cards are dealt to a stock pile, each player is then dealt two batches
of 5 cards.
Bidding
There are only four bids available but rules for making them can be a
little convoluted should you wish to use the round to arrange a partner-
ship. The bids are:
3 Cards for 1 game point
2 Cards for 2 game points
1 Card for 3 game points
Without for 4 game points
These refer to the number of cards from the stock that the Declarer may
improve his/her hand with.
Bidding begins with Eldest and moves to the right, finishing when
someone bids Without or three players pass. Players must have at least
one Honour to be allowed to bid. If all pass, then the hand is thrown in,
re-dealt and played for double game points. Players may not bid higher
than one bid above any already bid - except when inviting a partner. So,
Eldest must either pass or bid 3 Cards, if 3 Cards is bid, then the next
player may either pass or bid 2 Cards, and so forth. If a player has bid
but is then outbid by another player, he/she can claim the higher bid for
him/her self by calling hold on their next turn.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Invitation Bids
It may be that you have a hand that is not good enough for you to want
to be Declarer yourself but good enough for you to feel confident as a
Declarers partner. You can indicate this by making an invitation to call
you as partner by the way that you bid. There are strict rules governing
how this is done and when you can do this:
To be allowed to make an invitation bid you must hold an Honour. There
are two possible invitations you can make and you must also have the
card that an invitation requires, these invitations are also called jump
bids because they require you to bid higher than the rules would
otherwise demand.
Partner with XIX
If you hold the XIX of trumps you can invite by bidding one higher than
required. So, if 3 Cards has been bid, then you must bid 1 Card to
make the invitation. If someone out bids you or calls hold, then they
accept your invitation and must call XIX for a partner after the discard.
Partner with XVIII
If you hold the XVIII of trumps you can invite by bidding two higher
than required. Be cautious though, if 3 Cards has been bid, you must
bid Without so that the only way your invitation can be accepted is
with a call of hold.
Invitation bids are a nice addition to the game but do carry a risk. If your
invitation isnt accepted, then you can end up having to play as Declarer
after all.
Discard
If Declarer bid to take from the stock, then he/she draws the number bid
from the top of the stock pile and discards the same number from his/her
hand. Honours and Kings may never be discarded, if any trumps are to
be discarded then they must be shown to the other players. This scart
counts towards Declarers tricks. Unless Without was bid, each of the
other players may draw one card from the stock and discard to the same
rule to a defenders scart - the remaining cards from the stock also go to
this scart. If Without was bid, then the defenders take 2 cards each
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according to the same rules.
Once the discard is complete and the hands finalized, a player may
decide that their hand is so bad that it isnt viable to play. If the hand
meets one of these conditions, then they are allowed to annul the hand -
in which case the cards are re-dealt and points for the new deal are
doubled.
1. No trumps
2. All four kings
These conditions are much stricter than the standard game.
Calling a Partner
Unless accepting an invitation, Declarer should normally call for the
XX of trumps and whoever has that card in their hand will be partner.
Partner may not announce him/her self - their identity must be revealed
by their play. If the XX is in a scart or if it is held by Declarer, then the
lowest trump below XX that Declarer does not have must be called for.
If any of the other players discarded a trump, then Declarer may call for
any trump, excluding Honours.
If the called trump has been discarded, the player who discarded it must
call contra to the game.
If Declarer accepted an invitation in the bidding round, then the card for
that bid must be called.
Bonuses
Either side, as a team, can score points - or lose them - from bonuses.
There six possible bonuses and for extra points, they can all be an-
nounced before play begins.
Honours: A bonus for winning all the honour cards in your tricks.
Scores 2 points announced, 1 point unannounced.
Kings: A bonus for winning all four Kings in your tricks. Scores 2
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points announced, 1 point unannounced.
High Game: A bonus for taking 71 card points or more. Payment for
the hand is quadrupled if announced and doubled if unannounced.
Slam: A bonus for winning all the tricks. Payment for the hand is
multiplied by 6 if announced, and tripled if unannounced. A team that
declares a Slam, cannot declare Honours or Kings. A team that wins a
Slam does not score for Honours or Kings.
Pagat Ultimo: A bonus for winning the last trick with the Pagat. Scores
10 points if announced or 5 points if unannounced.
Mond: A bonus for capturing the opponents Mond. Scores 40 points
announced or 20 points unannounced.
First Five: The team must take the first five tricks - the last one must be
won by the XX. Scores 10 points announced or 5 points unannounced.
First Six: The team must take the first six tricks - the last one must be
won by the XXI.
Scores 12 points announced or 6 points unannounced.
First Seven: The team must take the first seven tricks - the last one must
be won by the Fool. 14 points announced or 7 points unannounced.
First Eight: The team must take the first eight tricks - the last one must
be won by the Pagat. Scores 20 points announced or 10 points un-
announced.
King Ultimo suit: The last trick must be taken by the King of the
declared suit. This bonus must be announced to score. Scores 15 points.
King Penultimo suit: The penultimate (9th) trick must be won by the
King of the declared suit. This bonus must be announced to score.
Scores 20 points.
Owl Ultimo: A bonus for winning the last trick with the II of trumps.
Must be announced. Scores 25 points
Owl Penultimo: A bonus for winning the next to last trick with the II
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of trumps. Must be announced. Scores 30 points
Manille: One unspecified trick must be won by an undeclared black
Queen or a black Cavalier. Must be announced. Scores 20 points
Spadille: One unspecified trick must be won by an undeclared red
Queen or a red Cavalier. Must be announced. Scores 20 points
Dschinn: One uspecified trick must be won by a pip card of a declared
suit. Must be announced. Scores 30 points
Marriage: The last two tricks must be won with by the King and the
Queen of the declared suit. Must be announced. Scores 50 points
Bethlehem: The last three tricks must be won by undeclared Kings.
Must be announced. Scores 60 points
Famille: The last three tricks must each be won by three cards of the
declared suit. Must be announced. Scores 60 points
Trojka: The last three tricks must each be won by an undeclared Bird
(ie I-IV of trumps). Must be announced. Scores 60 points
Mond Capture: The opponents Mond is captured by the Fool. Scores
42 points announced or 21 if unannounced.
After any announcements have been made, any of the defenders may
call contra to either the game or to one of the announcements, dou-
bling its score. Any player may then call re-contra to double it a
second time, re-contra can be called three times, then sub-contra
may be called to end the doubling at x32! Contras can raise the score
significantly - if you are playing for money, think before you allow
them in play. You may wish to limit the contras to just one or two. At
least one should be allowed as they impart information - only a defender
may make the first contra, not Declarers partner.
Play
Declarer leads to the first trick. Play moves to the right and players in
turn must play a card of the led suit. If they cannot follow suit, then they
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must play a trump. If they cannot play a trump, then they may play any
card - though it cannot win. If a player has announced for a Pagat
Ultimo, they may not play the Pagat to any trick before the last one
unless the rules force it. The highest card of the led suit wins the trick
unless a trump has been played, then the highest trump wins.
Scores
To win the hand, a team must take at least 48 card points. Players may
not score more than 60 game points, nor may they score below zero.
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6.3 Hungarian Tarokk: Royal
Royal Tarokk was developed in Hungary by Zoltan Gerots
in 1984 as a tournament game. The only English edition of
the rules that I know of has been the Dummett & McLeod
account. These rules were originally developed from a Babel
Fish translation of some internet sources found in German
chief among them the German Wiki page. Fortunately I have
had some help from a friend with some German and have
made further corrections based upon Dummett & McLeod.
The game has some very original features that set it apart
from the other Hungarian games. The object of many of
these changes has been to reduce or eliminate the element of
chance, so that a teams score will reflect their skill in play.
Cards
A 40 card Hungarian pack, all 22 trumps are in play, with all
courts and just one pip in each of the black suits.
There are no card points in this game.
XXI Mond
XX Angel
XIX Lamour
XVIII Visi
IIII Marabou
III Cockatoo
II Owl
I Pagat
Fool & Mond Honours
Fool XVIII-XXI Upper Trumps
XIV-XVIII Middle Trumps
I-IIII The Birds
Kings & Birds Magnifiers
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Players
Four play in two fixed partnerships. One, the Catcher, sits left of the
other, the Driver.
The cards are cut to determine which team shall be the attacking side
first. Roles alternate after that for a total of eight hands for the match.
Deal
The attacking sides Driver deals. Dealer first removes the XIX and XX.
The XIX goes to the Catchers hand and the XX goes to the Drivers.
The cards are shuffled and the defenders Catcher cuts. Cards are then
dealt clockwise in packets of two until the last two cards, one each of
which go to the attackers Driver and Catcher.
All players then confirm that they have ten cards with at least three
trumps. If any are short of that, then the hand is re-dealt.
Compensation Points
One of the features to reduce the effects of chance on your score is that
of compensation points. These adjust your score according to the hands
dealt to a team. As these are based on the combined hands, players
might want to make a hidden note of these: the number of trumps they
have, the number of Honours they have, and which of the XVI, XVII,
XVIII they have.
Announcements
As noted above, there are no card points in this game, all the points
scored come from achievements, called feasts.
Beginning with the dealer, players take turns to announce for feasts.
This continues until three players pass or four if immediately after the
deal.
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Some announcements, giving information about your hand, do not score
points, others are in a hierarchy and can only be raised by the partner of
the player to have made the last announcement in that sequence.
The highest type of announcement is the group of trophies and succeed-
ing at one of these is recorded as part of tournament play. Normally,
teams cannot score more than 100 points (nor score less than 0), the only
way to exceed this point limit is by playing a trophy. In Hungary,
players have developed conventions of announcing smaller feasts to
give information to their partners so as to be able to make these more
impressive announcements again, this information is not available to
me.
It is permitted to call a contra to any announced feast, though there are
no subsequent re-contras.
To successfully play this game, partners must devise a set of conven-
tions to allow them to communicate information about their hands by
calling lower value announcements. Only by doing this can they judge
if they can take on the higher value trophies. Unlike Bridge, which has
standard bidding systems to convey information, there are no standards
for Royal Tarokk and so the onus is on the players which does have
the advantage that opponents will be unable to read the signals, at least
until theyve studied your play!
Play
The attackers Driver leads to the first trick. Each player must, in turn,
moving to the right, follow suit if they can. If they cannot, then they
must play a trump and if they have no trump, then they must discard any
card, though it will not win. The highest card of the suit led wins the
trick unless any trumps have been played, then the highest trump wins.
Some feasts commit a player to taking a specific trick with a specific
card, this card is called a bound card. A bound card must not be played
to any other trick than that announced for unless the player has no other
alternative within the rules. If more than one card is bound by a feast
and one of those cards has to be played to a different trick, then the other
cards are still considered bound. A team may not call more than one
feast or trophy that bind the same card to different tricks.
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The ten tricks are played out this way, after which the scores are tallied.
Scores
Teams may not score less than 0, nor may they exceed 100 unless by
means of playing a trophy. Teams first calculate their consolation points,
they then add/subtract scores for feasts achieved or lost. To this they add
their score for any contras.
For trophies that score less than 100 points: If lost, then the maximum
point limit is reduced by the value of the trophy. If won, then the
maximum point limit is raised to 110 points.
For trophies that score more than 100 points: If lost, the hand is scored
at zero for the team. If won, then the maximum point score is raised to
the value of the trophy.
Once all eight hands of a match have been played, the teams scores for
them are totalled and divided by 8, the result rounded off.
Consolation Points
The object of these points is to even up the scores, eliminating the role
of chance in the deal. These are scored according to the cards held by a
team, not individual players, hence it might, as mentioned, be a good
idea for players to make a hidden note of their hand before play.
13+ trumps 40 points
11-12 trumps 50 points
10 or fewer trumps 60 points
Only 1 Honour 20 points
Without Honours 30 points
Without XVIII 5 points
Without XVII 5 points
Without XVI 5 points
Defence 20 points
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The defending team may score a maximum of 90 points in
consolation, and the attackers, a maximum of 100.
Contras
Only the team that called the contra can win or lose points
from it, though they may neither win nor lose more than 20
points from it. So, if the partner of an announcer calls the
contra, then, if the feast is won, then the team score double
for it, if lost, they lose double. If a player of the opposing
team calls the contra, then that team wins the value of the
feast if it is lost or lose them if it is won.
List of Announcements
Messages
Number of a Suit: If a player has at least two, though not
all cards of a suit, then they may announce them. (For
example: 4 Hearts). Only the actual number of cards may be
announced.
Trumps: If a player has at least 8 trump cards, they may
announce them though only the actual number may be given.
Birds: If a player has at least one bird , then Birds may be
announced.
Flush: If a player has all cards of a suit, then Flush may be
announced though the suit is not named. Scores 10 points
Four of a Kind: If a player has four cards of the same value,
such as four Kings or four Valets, then Four of a Kind may
be announced, though the cards may not be named. Scores
20 points
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Feasts
Material Premiums
Visi: The announcer contracts the team to have the XVIII in their tricks.
Scores 1 point
Lamour: The announcer contracts the team to have the XIX in their
tricks. Scores 1 point
Angel: The announcer contracts the team to have the XX in their tricks.
Scores 1 point
Honour: The announcer contracts the team to have the Fool or the
Mond in their tricks. Scores 1 point
Heads: The announcer contracts the team to have the Fool and the
Mond in their tricks. Scores 2 points
Full Honours: The announcer contracts the team to have the Fool, the
Mond and the Pagat in their tricks. Scores 3 points
Honour, Heads, and Full Honours form a hierarchy.
Silent Premiums
These are not actually announced but are scored if achieved during play.
Obscure: If Free Pass: Vale is not announced (see below), then this is
won by a team that takes all of the first five tricks. Scores 5 points
Lie in Wait: Won if a team wins their opponents Pagat. Scores 15 points
Four Kings: Won if a team has all four Kings in their tricks. Scores 20
points
Silent Mond Capture: Won if a team captures their opponents Mond.
Scores 50 points
Free Passes
Play: The announcer contracts the team to win at least 5 tricks. Scores
10 points
Cash: The announcer contracts the team to win at least 6 tricks. Scores
20 points
Bridge: The announcer contracts the team to win at least 7 tricks.
Scores 30 points
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Octave: The announcer contracts the team to win at least 8 tricks.
Scores 40 points
Misere: The announcer contracts the team to win at least 9 tricks.
Scores 50 points
Slam: The announcer contracts the team to win all 10 tricks. Scores 60
points
All free passes are in a hierarchy.
Bound Tricks
Piccolo: The announcer contracts the team to win the first three tricks,
with the XVIII being played to the third. Scores 5 points
Town Centre: The announcer contracts the team to win the first four
tricks, with the XIX being played to the fourth. Scores 5 points
Centre: The announcer contracts the team to the first five tricks, with
the XX being played to the fifth. Scores 10 points
Small Bird: The announcer contracts the team to win the first six tricks
with the XXI being played to the sixth. Scores 20 points
Large Bird: The announcer contracts the team to win the first seven
tricks with the Fool being played to the seventh. Scores 30 points
These are not in a hierarchy and more than one may be played together.
Magnified Feasts
Last day of the month: The announcer contracts the team to win the
last trick using the declared magnifier. Scores 10 points
Before the end of the month: The announcer contracts the team to win
the ninth trick using the declared magnifier. Scores 20 points
Kite: The announcer contracts the team to win the eighth trick with the
declared magnifier. Scores 30 points
Seize: The announcer contracts the team to win the seventh trick with
the declared magnifier. Scores 40 points
Turul: The announcer contracts the team to win the sixth trick with the
declared magnifier. Scores 50 points
All the feasts are considered individual if they declare a different card
and may be combined. However, if the same card is declared, then they
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are considered in hierarchy. The declared cards are bound.
Flight Feasts
Pheasant: The announcer contracts the team to win the first trick with
the declared magnifier. Scores 20 points
Falcon: The announcer contracts the team to win the second trick with
the declared magnifier. Scores 20 points
The Pheasant and the Falcon bind their declared cards but do not fall into
a hierarchy with each other. However, some feasts and trophies are
considered to be Flight Feasts and do fall into a hierarchy with these
announcements.
Intercept Feasts
Gang: The announcer contracts the team to have all the cards of the
declared regular suit in their tricks. Scores 5 points
Quick One: The announcer contracts the team to have all the red suit
cards in their tricks. Scores 20 points
The Red and The Black: The announcer contracts the team to have all
the cards in a declared red suit and in a declared black suit in their tricks.
Scores 25 points
Army: The announcer contracts the team to have all the black suit cards
in their tricks. Scores 30 points
Legion: The announcer contracts the team to have all the regular suit
cards in their tricks. Scores 50 points
These feasts are considered in a hierarchy and cannot be combined.
Extras
Amazon: The announcer contracts the team to win a trick with a suit
card below the rank of King. The card is not declared. Scores 5 points
Pagat Capture: The announcer contracts the team to capture their
opponents Pagat. Scores 30 points
Second Pheasant: The announcer contracts the team to win the first and
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second tricks with the declared magnifiers. Scores 60 points
Third Pheasant: The announcer contracts the team to win the first and
third tricks with the declared magnifiers. Scores 60 points
Fourth Pheasant: The announcer contracts the team to win the second
and fourth tricks with the declared magnifiers. Scores 60 points
The second, third, and fourth Pheasants are considered Flight Feasts and
in hierarchy with the Pheasant or the Falcon.
Schleicher: The announcer contracts to win the last two tricks with
Birds, these cards are not declared. Scores 60 points
Pho Nothing: The announcer contracts the team to win the last two
tricks with Kings, these cards are not declared. Scores 60 points
Trophies
Little Trophies
Spadille: The announcer contracts the team to win a trick with either a
Queen, Cavalier, or Valet of a red suit. Scores 30 points
Manille: The announcer contracts the team to win a trick with either a
Queen, Cavalier, or Valet of a black suit. Scores 30 points
Dschinn: The announcer contracts the team to win a trick with a pip
card of the declared black suit. Scores 50 points
Marriage: The announcer contracts the team to win the last two tricks
with the King and the Queen of the declared suit. Scores 60 points
Trophies
Mond Capture: The announcer contracts the team to capture their
opponents Mond using the Fool. Scores 120 points
Habicht: The announcer contracts the team to win the first three tricks
with the declared magnifiers. This is considered a Flight Feast and
stands in the hierarchy after Fourth Pheasant. Scores 120 points
Couleur: The announcer contracts the team to win the last three tricks
with undeclared suit cards. Scores 120 points
Scale: The announcer contracts the team to win all tricks and the five
Bound Tricks. Scores 120 points
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Greater Trophies
Golgotha: The announcer contracts the team to capture the opponents
Mond and Pagat. Scores 130 points
Centaur: The announcer contracts the team to win the opponents
Mond with the Fool and to win one trick with an undeclared suit card
though not a King. Scores 130 points
Trojka: The announcer contracts the team to win the last three tricks
with an undeclared Bird each. Scores 130 points
Famille: The announcer contracts the team to win the last three tricks
each with a card of the announced suit. Scores 130 points
Bethlehem: The announcer contracts the team to win the last three
tricks with undeclared Kings. Scores 130 points
Sphinx: The announcer contracts the team to win a trick with a red and
then a second trick with a black Queen, Cavalier, or Valet. Scores 130
points
Super Trophies
Quart: The announcer contracts the team to win all tricks, including
four in a row with suit cards. Scores 140 points
Pyramid: The announcer contracts the team to win all tricks, including
four in a row with Birds. Scores 140 points
Spectrum: The announcer contracts the team to win all tricks, including
all five Bound Tricks, and the last three tricks with undeclared suit cards.
Scores 140 points
Multi Trophies
Stella: The announcer contracts the team to win all tricks, the first three
with declared Magnifiers, the fourth with the XIX, the fifth with the XX,
the sixth with the Mond, and the seventh with the Fool. This is consid-
ered to be a Flight Feast and falls in the hierarchy after the Fourth
Pheasant. Scores 150 points
Full: The announcer contracts the team to win all tricks, including all
five Bound Tricks, and the last three with undeclared Birds. Scores 150
points
Court: The announcer contracts the team to win all tricks, including all
five Bound Tricks, and the last three tricks with suit cards of a declared
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suit. Scores 150 points
Grand: The announcer contracts the team to win all tricks, including all
five Bound Tricks, and the last three with undeclared Kings. Scores 150
points
Ultra Trophies
Harpy: The announcer contracts the team to win all tricks, to win one
trick with any suit card except a King, and to win the opponents Mond.
Scores 160 points
Gloria: The announcer contracts the team to win all tricks, to win the
opponents Mond, and to win the last three tricks with any undeclared
suit cards. Scores 160 points
Triumph: The announcer contracts the team to win all tricks, to win the
opponents Mond, and to win the last three tricks with undeclared Birds.
Scores 160 points
Royal
Royal: The announcer contracts the team to win all tricks, to win the
opponents Mond and Pagat, and to win the last three tricks with
undeclared Birds both team members must win at least one of the last
three tricks each. Scores 200 points
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Royal Tarokk in Hungary
This game was created for organized tournaments and it seems that
Hungary has an organized body to officiate over the rules, records, and
play.
Team Championships
Each team can have two or three members. The teams are named and
recorded on a championship table.
The roles of Driver and Catcher seem to be fixed with the third player
recorded as a substitute, available to take either role.
Games that are not to be played publicly must be agreed with a jury in
advance of play.
Teams play a maximum of 52 matches and their points summed.
In Hungary, this championship begins on the 1st of January and ends on
the 31st of December. As their annual tarokk meeting takes place in mid
January, championship matches to be played prior to the meeting must
be agreed by a jury.
The Hungarian Cup
Registration begins at the end of August, only 16 teams without substi-
tutes are accepted.
Each round is played at the end of the month, the first being in Septem-
ber. The losing teams in each round are eliminated from the contest.
Each round consists of three matches, the results of which are summed,
the team with the lowest score being eliminated. If the results are tied
then a tie-breaker of two hands is played, the results of which are
summed and not averaged. If there is a further tie, then these tie-breaker
rounds continue until it is broken.
After the cup, two bronze medals are awarded to the semi-finalists.
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Free Games
These include training games, variants of the official rules, and test
games to try out new rules. Players may record their points and at the
end of the year a winner is produced.
Grand Prix
The number of these played each year does not appear to be fixed.
It may be acceptable for Grand Prix plays to be considered for the Team
Championships and the Cup.
Each team plays 3 matches. Their points are not averaged but summed,
so that for the 24 games scores will be somewhere over 2000 points.
If there is a tie, then the best match score from each team is compared
and the highest declared winner. If there is still a tie, then the trophies
won are considered, with the team that won the highest ranking trophy
declared winner.
The Trophy List
Trophies won by players are recorded nationally. These may include
those trophies won in recognized variants of the game, including the
newer version of Emperor Tarokk.
Players are awarded cups as they win trophy points totaling 100, 250,
500, and 1000.
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171
The Games VI
This section is for those games played with non-standard tarot packs. If
you want to play them, youll need to go shopping for something other
than an ordinary 78 card tarot.
The first of these is for the Sicilian cards, which features fairly minor
differences with an ordinary pack. If you had to, it would not be too
much trouble to use any 78 card pack with some subtractions.
There then follows a small selection of games played with the Bolognese
cards that really are unusual. The first and best of these games is
Ottocento, a real contender for the best of all tarot games, and a front
runner for the best of all card games. I wont deny that it is a little
challenging, the cards are unfamiliar and the rules sometimes seem
complex but it is certainly worth any effort it takes to learn. If you want
a real challenge, forget Bridge - learn Ottocento.
The game of Minchiate has sadly died out, the last records of it being
played date back to just the 1930s in Milan. A once very popular game,
it shares some of the features that make Ottocento something so special
and is well worth trying out if you can find a pack to play with.
Fortunately, all of these cards are easily available from the internet
stores at very reasonable prices - so youve no excuse not to complete
your education in tarocchi.
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173
7.1 Sicilian Tarocchi
The Sicilian game is rather unusual in both its cards and its
play. The Cards are surprisingly small, just a little larger
than a patience pack, and the trump sequence is a little
different with a unique un-numbered lowest trump, called
the Beggar. While there is a simple round of bidding, for
playing alone or to form partnerships, there is a preceding
round of bargaining, where players can offer or accept
game points to throw in the hand. Players may also notice
the deviation from the traditional card values. This is an
entertaining that I have only recently begun to appreciate.
Its bidding round is structured to reveal enough informa-
tion to make play very interesting.
The Cards
Four regular Italian suits, omitting Ace to 3 in coins and the
Ace to 4 in the swords, batons, and cups with rational rank-
ing. There are 21 trumps numbered 1-20, the lowest trump,
la miseria (The Beggar), is un-numbered. There is also a
Fool called Fuggitivo that is used as an excuse.
Card Points:
Giove (XX) 10
Picciotti (I) 10
Fuggitivo 10
Palla (XIX) 5
Sole (XVIII) 5
Luna (XVII) 5
Stella (XVI) 5
Kings 5
Queens 4
Cavallo 3
Donna 2
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XX, I, and Fuggitivo are called the diecine
The top five trumps are called the arie
All five point cards are called cinquine
Cards are counted in groups of three, subtracting 2 points for each group,
there are also 5 bonus points for winning the last trick, giving a total of
109 points in the game.
The Deal
Two packets of five cards are dealt to each player, followed by 3 cards
to the stock, called pattegiare, then a further packet of five to each of the
players.
Bargaining
Players examine their cards and may offer up to 8 to 10 game points to
throw in the hand. Each player may speak once only but in no particular
order may:
Request to throw in the hand for a given number of points
State a willingness to throw in the hand for a minimum number of points
Call I take to accept an offer to throw in the hand.
Call I hold to play the hand.
If just one player wishes to hold, then the hand must be played.
Bidding
Solo: Dealer asks if anyone wishes to play solo. Preference begins with
eldest and moves right. If someone accepts, they become Declarer and
play against the other three. Declarer shows the stock, takes it into
his/her hand and discards 3 cards.
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20 Partnerships: If there is no solo bid, then Dealer takes the stock
unseen by the other players into his/her hand and then discards 3 cards.
Players then bid in turn to determine partnerships for the hand. If a
player has at least 20 points in 5 and 10 point cards, then a bid of 20
may be offered to become Declarer. Otherwise, a call of pass must be
made. If all players call pass, then the hand is discontinued and the
deal moves to the right.
If 20 has been bid, then there is another round to determine Declarers
partner. Beginning with Declarers right, each player offers a bid of
zero or, if they have at least 15 points in 5 and 10 point cards, they may
bid 15 to form a partnership. If all three players call pass, then
Declarer must call a King (or Queen) according to these rules:
The named King cannot be in Declarers hand, if Declarer holds all the
Kings, then a Queen may be called to the same rules. If all the Queens
are held, then the Declarer plays solo.
The called King must be of the shortest suit in Declarers hand that lacks
Kings - excluding void suits. If there are two qualifying suits, then
he/she must call that one with the better court card(s). If they are still
equal, then coins must be called or, if coins are void or with a King, then
any suit may be called.
Partners cannot announce themselves, they must be discovered from
their game play.
Scores
Players keep their own tricks, with partners totaling their points at the
end. Players win or lose game points for every card point over or below
55 (for the side with the stock) or 54 (for the side without the stock).
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177
7.2.0 Tarocchi Bolognese
This small group of games is played with a pack unique to
Bologna, sometimes called the Tarocchino due to its re-
duced size. The pack consists of 62 cards, having the 2 to 5
removed from each of the plain suits. There is a further
uniqueness in the arrangement of trumps, most notably
because they have the Popess, Empress, Emperor, and Pope
replaced by four equally ranking trumps called the Four
Moors. While the change was requested by the church, it
was not from offence, instead it was a face saving compro-
mise after a series of political gaffs by a card maker and the
church authorities.
The trumps were once un-numbered and the Popessa, Em-
press, Emperor, and Pope were known collectively as the
Papi. It seems that they were also treated as being of equal
rank, so this feature was not new to the game when the
church made its demands for change. One theory to account
for the strange numbering of the cards is that their order
was fixed before people began to print numbers on them, and
that the numbers were arranged to ensure that Death re-
tained its traditional number of 13.
Until Michael Dummetts book, these games and the cards
they are played with were probably unknown outside of the
region. Since then, rules for one of the games, Ottocento,
have also been published in David Parletts Penguin Ency-
clopaedia of Card Games (finally back in print as the Pen-
guin Book of Card Games) and on John McLeods web site.
The fact that the cards are made available through importers
at all, testifies to an interest in the game that I hope to add
to with this book. Ottocento is not a simple game on first
inspection but the principles are straight forward and once
understood, will prove no obstacle. In my opinion, Ottocento
is perhaps the best card game I have ever played and I do
recommend that you try it out.
The other Bolognese games I have given here remain unpub-
lished outside of Dummett, which is a shame, as they are
also good games using the same principles as Ottocento.
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The leaflet supplied with the tarocchino pack published by Dal Negro
mentions all of these and so I must assume that they are still in play today.
Unlike the previously listed games, where I have allowed myself repeti-
tion of shared principles, those shared by this game are perhaps a little
more involved. So, Ill start with the shared elements and then move on
to the individual games played with them.
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The Tarocchino
There are four regular Latin suits of Swords, Batons, Cups, & Coins of
just 10 cards each using irrational ranking. There are then 21 trumps
with unusual numbering and a Fool, that is played as an excuse.
Swords & Batons
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, A
Cups & Coins
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, A, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Not all of the trumps are numbered and those that are have an unusual
arrangement. They rank in the following order with the numbers given.
There are not many unnumbered cards, so they arent difficult to remem-
ber.
Angel
World
Sun
Moon
16
15
14
13
12
11
10
9
8
7
6
5
Four Moors (four cards of equal rank)
Pagat
There are four honours for these games: the Angel, World, Pagat, and
Fool.
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Cards are counted in pairs subtracting 1 point for every pair. This is like
the counting for the French game, so the same methods can be used here
of either pairing one counter with one empty card or of counting the
cards as if their value was one half point less. With an additional 6
points awarded for the last trick, there are effectively 93 points in the
pack.
However, a hand is rarely, if ever, won or lost on the card points.
Combinations and Sequences
In these games, a hand may be won on the bonuses for combinations,
called cricche, and sequences. The forming and scoring for cricche is
straight forward.
Honours 36 points for 4 cards 18 points for 3 cards
Kings 34 points for 4 cards 17 points for 3 cards
Queens 28 points for 4 cards 14 points for 3 cards
Cavaliers 26 points for 4 cards 13 points for 3 cards
Valets 24 points for 4 cards 12 points for 3 cards
If three or more cricche are scored at one time, then their score is doubled.
Sequences are made a little more complicated because of the privilege
given to The Fool and the Pagat to function as wild cards. Each wild
card may only be used once within any single sequence but can be used
in more than one sequence. However, if a sequence is complete without
wild cards, they may (both) still be added to the end to score extra points
so, for example, it is possible to score a sequence of six aces. Likewise,
if three aces were held with both wild cards, then a sequence of five
could be scored.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 point
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Trumps: Beginning with the Angel down, a sequence of 3 or more
trumps. The player must have at least the Angel and one of the other
unnumbered trumps (World, Sun, or Moon) before being allowed to fill
gaps with wild cards but they may not replace two consecutive trumps.
Further, the sequence can continue to the numbered trumps after just
three unnumbered ones. For example, a trump sequence might run
Angel, Wild Card, Sun, 16, 15.
According to David Parlett, it is allowed to use two wild cards consecu-
tively in a Trump sequence if and only if the cards replaced are an
un-numbered trump and the 16.
Suits: Beginning with the King down, a sequence of 3 or more court
cards plus the ace. The player must have at least the King and one of the
other court cards before being allowed to fill gaps with wild cards. The
wild cards may not be used to replace two consecutive cards.
Moors: A sequence of three or more moors. The player must have at
least two moors before being allowed to use wild cards.
Aces: A sequence of three or more aces. The player must have at least
two aces before being allowed to use wild cards.
Sequences each score 10 points for 3 cards and a further 5 points for
each additional card. If three or more sequences are formed at one time,
then they score double. This makes the Fool and the Pagat easily the
most important cards in the game winning or protecting the Pagat
should always be a priority.
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183
7.2.1 Ottocento
Ottocento is a four player game, played in two fixed partnerships with
partners sitting opposite each other. The object is to be the first side to
accrue 800 points - hence the name of the game. If played for stakes,
then they are fixed - first past the post wins them.
Deal
First Dealer is chosen at random, usually by cutting the cards. Deal and
play are, as usual, counter-clockwise, with deal passing to the right after
each hand.
Each player receives three packets of 5 cards, with the Dealer taking 7
cards on the last round. Dealer must then discard 3 cards to his/her
sides trick pile. The discard may not include Honours or Kings. Howev-
er, should Dealers side lose every trick, then these cards count to the
opponents tricks.
Declarations
Individual players may now score points for their side by making
declarations for any cricce or sequences in their hand (they may not
include cards held by their partners). This is done in turn, beginning
with Eldest. If either side reaches 800 points during this stage, they win
the game and the hand is discontinued. If both can make 800 points,
then it is the side with the highest score that wins.
There is no obligation to make any declarations and it is legal to declare
for less than you can but you only score what you declare. To make the
declaration, the required cards must be laid face up for all to see. The
cards are then gathered up when Eldest plays to the first trick.
Play
Eldest leads to the first trick, playing any card in his/her hand to the
middle of the table. Each player in turn must follow suit. If a player
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cannot follow suit, then they must play a trump. If they cannot play a
trump, then they can play any card, though it will not win. If no trumps
have been played, then the highest card of the suit led wins the trick,
otherwise, the highest trump played wins the trick. The side that wins
the trick, adds the cards to their trick pile.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, though it beats nothing. If the Fool is
led to a trick, then the next players card determines the suit to be
followed. At the end of a trick to which the Fool has been played, if the
side who played it loses the trick, they take the Fool into their own trick
pile and give the opponents an empty card from their trick pile in
exchange. However, if the side that played the Fool loses every trick,
then they must give the card to their opponents at the end of the hand.
If the cards of an individual trick contain a cricce or sequence, then the
side that wins the trick, scores for these extra points. While all sources
agree that cricce and sequences are scored for individual tricks, as well
as in declarations and the final calculation, there is a little ambiguity as
to when it should be scored. I would suggest that these are scored
immediately and added to the teams total, as this is easier than going
through a trick pile in groups that may be altered from exchanging the
Fool. If, after the hand has been played out and before the card points
are calculated, one side has reached 800, they win the game.
Signals
As with any card game of this type, players may not discuss their hands
or share information in any way. However, there are three permitted
signals that players may make to one another.
Knock: The player knocks the table with a clenched fist (not too hard,
we hope) to request that his/her partner plays their highest card of the
suit led and, if they win the trick, to lead that suit again.
Throw: The player throws their card to the trick to indicate that he/she
is now void in that suit.
Drag: When a player leads trumps, he/she may drag the edge of the card
being played against the table to ask their partner to lead trumps
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whenever they can.
Calculating the Final Scores
This may seem a little complicated at first glace but is, in fact, rather
simple and a fast way of reckoning the final scores. Before anything else,
both sides calculate their points in tricks, then, they move on to calculat-
ing their points from cricche and sequences.
Rather than both sides doing this, which could take a while, just one side
will separate out their trumps, honours, courts, and aces. They then lay
out these cards in columns, first a column for trumps, and then columns
for each of the suits. By leaving gaps where they are missing cards
players can see any cricche or sequences immediately and infer from the
gaps, those that will be scored by their opponents.
7.2.2 Terziglio
This is a game for three players with a bidding round to decide which
player shall be Declarer and play against the other two in partnership.
Deal
Players decide who shall deal first, deal moves to the right after each
hand is played. Players are dealt 6 cards in each of three rounds, leaving
8 cards that make a stock pile. Michael Dummett mentions an alterna-
tive version in which players are dealt 19 cards with 5 cards making the
stock.
Bidding
Starting with Eldest, players may call I Play or Solo to take the role
of Declarer. A call of I play is outbid by a call of Solo. If called,
bidding ends with Solo. If no one makes a call, then the hand is thrown
in and deal moves on
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If Declarer had called I Play, then the stock pile is added to the cards
dealt and declarer must discard 8 cards to a discard pile. These discards
may not include tarocchi or Kings. However, if Declarer had won the
bid with Solo, then the cards go unseen by all towards Declarers
tricks. They will count toward Declarers tricks at the end unless all
tricks are lost, then they must be surrendered to the opponents.
Declarations
Starting with Declarer, players take turns to declare any sequences or
cricche that they individually hold in their hand. The cards used to score
these points must be exposed to all players, thus play can begin with
important information in the open however, these declarations are not
obligatory and a player may declare for less than the cards actually held.
Play
Declarer then leads to the first trick and the standard pattern of play is
followed. If any sequences or cricche are in a single trick, then the side
that wins it scores those points.
Once the cards have been played, the card points are totalled, then the
points for sequences and cricche.
The game is won by the side that has the most points.
Game Points
Game points are then awarded, often for gambling to determine the
money won or lost.
The winning sides score is rounded to a multiple of 50 if the score
falls short by up to 4 points, then it is rounded up, if by more, then it is
rounded down. This result is divided by 50 to give the game points won
against each of the opponents. This score is doubled if a call of Solo was
made. However, if all the tricks were won, then 40 game points are
awarded!
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7.2.3 Millone
This is the best of the tarocchino two handers. For two player games, I
dont normally venture beyond bezique but this is enough fun to attract
me to it.
Play is up to 1000 points, if both players can make this at the end of a
hand, then the player with the highest score wins. If played for a stake -
it is kept fixed.
Players take turns to deal, with first Dealer being chosen at random.
Each player receives four packets of 5 cards, with Dealer taking 7 in the
last round. If a player can declare sequences or cricce from the cards
they hold to make 1000 points, then they make the declarations and
claim the game. Otherwise, each player must discard 10 cards that may
not include Honours or Kings - each players discards count to their
tricks at the end.
Two more rounds of 5 cards are dealt with Dealer taking the last two
cards and making a further discard of 2 according to the above rules.
Dealers opponent leads to the first trick. Players must always follow
suit if they can, if not, then they must play a trump, and if they cannot
trump, then they may play any card, though it will not win.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, though it beats nothing. At the end of
a trick to which the Fool has been played, if the player who played it
loses the trick, they take the Fool into their own trick pile and give the
opponent an empty card from their trick pile in exchange. However, if
the player that played the Fool loses every trick, then they must give the
card to the opponent at the end of the hand.
After the hand is played, card points are scored followed by the cricce
and sequences. Rather than both players doing this, which could take a
while, just one will separate out their trumps, Honours, courts, and aces.
These cards are then laid out these in columns, first a column for trumps,
and then columns for each of the suits. By leaving gaps where there are
missing cards players can see any cricche and sequences immediately
and infer from the gaps, those that will be scored by the opponent.
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7.2.4 Mattazza
This is one of those fun, the more the merrier, type of games and, like
the Queen of Spades, the object is to avoid winning the most points and
so becoming the loser. However, if a player wins no points at all, then
they automatically lose the hand instead. It can be played with up to 6
players for a fixed stake.
Deal
First Dealer is chosen at random, usually by cutting the cards. Deal and
play are, as usual, counter-clockwise, with deal passing to the right after
each hand.
Each player, no matter how many are playing, receives two packets of
5 cards. The remaining cards are put aside unseen and play no further
role.
Play
Eldest leads to the first trick, playing any card in his/her hand to the
middle of the table. Each player in turn must follow suit. If a player
cannot follow suit, then they must play a trump. If they cannot play a
trump, then they can play any card, though it will not win. If no trumps
have been played, then the highest card of the suit led wins the trick,
otherwise, the highest trump played wins the trick. The player that wins
the trick, adds the cards to his/her trick pile.
The Fool may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, though it beats nothing. If the Fool is
led to a trick, then the next players card determines the suit to be
followed. At the end of a trick to which the Fool has been played, the
player takes back the Fool and adds it to his/her own trick pile and gives
the tricks winner a card from his/her trick pile in exchange - if possible,
they give a card that will increase the trick winners score.
If the cards of an individual trick contain a cricce or sequence, then the
player that wins the trick, scores for these extra points.
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At any point in the game, a player may call out for a partner to help
prevent a particular player win any tricks. If someone joins in the
enterprise, they may not announce it. This is a risky gambit because, if
they fail, then one of the players is very likely to find themselves the
loser of that hand.
Scores
At the end of the hand, players add up their card points and score for any
cricce or sequences as normal. The usual practice of just one person
checking for these scores is not possible unless only two are playing. If
two or more players tie for the most points, then they are considered
joint losers.
Each time a player loses a hand, they get a mark by their name. Once a
player has six marks, they are declared the games loser and must pay
the agreed stake to each of the other players. However, if at any stage
two players have 3 or more marks between them then they are declared
joint losers and must share the cost.
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191
7.3 Minchiate
This is a very old game, dating back to the 16
th
century. It
was very popular, spreading through many parts of Italy and
didnt fade from play until the end of the 19
th
century, with
the last records of its play dating to the early 1930s in Milan.
The game also spread to Sicily and to France, and there is a
mid 19
th
century source that refers to minchiate being played
as far a field as New Orleans. The Sicilian and French
players had their own local versions of the rules but these
have sadly been lost to time. The cards themselves can be
hard to find but every now and then a tarot publisher releas-
es a reproduction pack. As I write this, a nice reproduction
is still stocked by Alida Store - though it is a limited edition!
The original name of the game was Germini. Within a couple
of decades, the name minchiate (which Im informed is
pronounced minkiartay) arose - Michael Dummett sug-
gests it was derived from the Ottocento players term
sminchiare for playing the highest trump. However, in some
regions, particularly Sicily, where minchiate was a little too
close to the term for some male anatomy, people reverted to
calling it Gemini.
Essentially, the pack was formed by adding a group of
trumps into those existing to make a total of 40 and a pack
of 97 cards in all. There are some other differences to the
more familiar Italian packs, the Popess and Pope are gone,
the Valets of the cups and coins are female, and the cavaliers
are all half man half beast.
The only source that I have for this game is Michael Dum-
mett who lists a great deal of history that Im going to leave
out. I am, unlike the other games, going to try to use the
original terms. This is an extraordinary game and I hope
that if it looks little daunting at first, you wont be put off - a
little effort will grant reward!
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The Cards
There are four regular suites each of four court cards and ten pip cards
with Latin suits and irrational ranking. There is then the fifth suit of
trumps numbering forty, with the last five being unnumbered. Finally
there is a Fool which is played as an excuse.
Card points do not win a game, as with the tarocchino games, it is the
points won from sequences and combinations that tip the balance.
However, points are scored from cards - though not by all the traditional
ones. To begin with, the empty cards really are empty - they score for
nothing. Most striking of all is that the court cards below the rank of
King are relegated to being empty cards.
The Arie (the top 5 trumps) 10
Papa Uno (the 1 of trumps) 5
X 5
XIII 5
XX 5
XXVIII 5
XXXtoXXXV 5
Matto (The Fool) 5
Kings 5
Papa II-V (Trumps II-V) 3
With 10 points scored for the last trick. The cards are counted individu-
ally making 91 points in the pack.
Noble Trumps: These are the trumps that carry points
Ignoble Trumps: These are the trumps that carry no points.
Papi: These are the five lowest trumps
Arie: These are the five highest trumps
Sopratrenti: XXXI-XXXV
Sopraventi: XXI-XXIX
Sottoventi: XI-XIX
Rossi: XXXIII-XXXX (all of these cards have a red background)
Salamandre: XVI-XIX
Versicole: These are the scoring combinations
La Fola: This is the stock
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Versicole
Regular versicole:
These consist of three or more consecutive trumps
Versicole di papi: a sequence withn the first five trumps
Versicole di tarocchi: a sequence from XXXVIII or higher
Versicole darie: a sequence within the last five trumps
Versicole di trenti: a sequence including the XXX
Versicole di sopratrenti: a sequence beginning with XXXI or XXXII
Versicole di rossi: the XXXIII, XXXIV, and XXXV
Irregular versicole:
Versicole del Matto: I, XXXX, and Matto
Versicole del Tredici: I, XIII, and XXVIII
Versicole delle diecine: X, XX, and XXX or
XX, XXX, and XXXX or
X, XX, XXX, and XXXX
Versicole dei Regi: any three or four Kings.
All versicole may have Matto added to them but it cannot act as a wild
card in lieu of a missing card to make the sequence.
All versicole score for the card points within them with the XXIX
scoring for 5.
If you look at the list of versicole, you will see that only the counting
cards and the XXIX are used to make sequences. Furthermore, the cards
usually have some visual clue on them to indicate that they score and in
which sequences - in the pack that I own, the images have the card
number pictured on a scroll which is colour coded to help.
Partnerships
Players form two partnerships, and sit with each partner opposite the
other. After four rounds have been played, it was usual for players to
switch partners for the next round.
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Robbing the Pack
The first Dealer is chosen at random, deal then moves to the right with
each hand. Dealers left cuts the cards and turns over the lifted part of
the pack. If the exposed card is a counting card or a trump higher than
XX, then Dealer's left takes the card, placing it face up. The same is
repeated with the next card until either the card cannot be taken or 13
cards have been taken.
Deal
Dealer completes the cut and deals each player one packet of 10 cards
and a second of 11 cards with the last card dealt face up. If the exposed
card carries any points, the player dealt it scores for them. Dealers left
then scores any card points in the robbed cards for his/her side.
Robbing the Fola
The remaining cards are called the Fola. Dealer places the pile face
down and exposes the top card. If it is a counting card or a trump higher
than XX, then Dealer takes the card, placing it face up. The same is
repeated with the next card until the card cannot be taken or there are no
cards left. Dealers side then sore for any card points in the robbed cards.
Pigliare
Dealer now examines the fola and removes any counting cards, placing
them face up. These cards will go toward Dealers sides tricks but they
are not scored now. What remains of the fola is now passed to Dealers
partner who sorts them into their suits. The trumps are placed in pile
face down and the regular suit cards are placed face up.
Discards
Dealer and Dealers left now pick up any cards they have robbed into
their hands and must then discard the same number of cards that they
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took. The discards may not include any counting cards but may contain
any others, including trumps. With the discards completed, Eldest leads
to the first trick - however, other players do not yet play to the trick.
Declarations
Players may now declare any versicole in their hands by placing the
relevant cards face up for all to see. When each side has scored for their
declarations, the exposed cards are gathered back up by their Declarers.
Completing the Fola
Dealer and Dealer's left now pass their discards Dealers partner who
sorts them and places them with the other cards of the Fola. Again, the
trumps are placed face down but the suit cards are face up. After
everyone has seen them, all the fola cards are gathered up and passed to
Dealer who placed them to one side. Dealer may examine the cards at
any time and other players may as at any point to be reminded on the
number of cards of each suit.
Dealer also collects up those cards of the Pigliare to form the start of
his/her sides trick pile.
Play
Play now continues to the first trick, each player in turn, moving to the
right, must then play a card of the same suit (follow suit) as that led. If
a player cannot follow suit, then they must play a trump, if they cannot
play a trump, then they can play any card, though it will not win. If no
trumps have been played, then the highest card of the suit led wins the
trick and that player takes the cards and puts them into his/her trick pile.
Otherwise, the highest trump played wins the trick.
The Matto may be played to any trick as an excuse for not playing a card
you are otherwise obliged to play, but may be neither won nor lost. At
the end of a trick to which the Matto has been played, the side who
played it takes it into their own trick pile and gives the side who won the
trick, an empty card from their trick pile in exchange. They may wait
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until the hand has been played to hand over the card but if they have
only taken counting cards, then they must surrender one and the other
side will score for it immediately.
When following suit to the first trick led to any of the regular suits, the
player who holds the King must at their turn play it to the trick if a trump
has been played.
When a trick is won, any counting cards in the trick played by the
opposing side are scored by the team that wins it.
At the end of the hand, if the team that had the Matto won no tricks, they
must hand over the Matto which immediately scores for the other side.
When a player has no more trumps, then they have the option of
dropping their hand. To do so, they place their cards face up on the table
and make no further play. The winner of each trick may take any
suitable card from the exposed hand - ie they must take a card of the suit
led if there is one or, if not, then any other. Obviously, it would be a
mistake to take this option if any Kings are still held.
Final Scores
Players should already have made a number of scores during the game.
In the original scheme these scores were tracked by a running total,
whereby the points scored by the side with the fewer points were
deducted from those of the team with the most points. A little long
winded - and unnecessary. I recommend just tracking your teams own
total till the end.
The team that won more than 42 cards in their tricks, now wins as many
points as they won in cards over 42.
Each team scores for all the card points in its tricks.
Each team scores for any versicole in its tricks.
The team with the most points wins and players pay in game points or
in stakes according to the difference between the points taken by each
side. If the difference is up to and including 60, then 1 game point is
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paid. If above 60 up and including 120, then 2 game points are paid.
This scoring system then just continues in multiples of 60.
In Closing
Well, there you have one of the most sophisticated games that tarot has
to offer. I hope that you will not just dismiss it as convoluted after only
a cursory glance. There is a lot going on here, as players begin each
hand armed with a lot of information and must pay close attention if
they are to protect both their own and their partners noble trumps - along
with trying to win those of their opponents.
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Appendix I
Shopping for Cards
Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.
Tarot cards seem to be everywhere these days. I would guess that if you
look around, you can find them for sale in just about every high street -
but for all this plenty, there are very few among these that are of any use
to you for gaming. At the beginning of the 20
th
century, a pack known
as the Rider-Waite (now, in recognition of the artist, more commonly
known as the RWS) altered the face of occult tarot. Instead of following
the Marseilles pattern and illustrating just the trumps, these cards
featured a great deviation from the traditional images and illustrated
with equal artistry, all of the pip cards with their occult meanings. Since
then, most tarot artists have followed suit and illustrated their entire
packs this way.
Now, when tarot trumps were first added to a pack of cards, their
illustrations had the job of distinguishing them from the ordinary cards.
But with the fully illustrated packs, it is harder to tell a pip from a trump
at first glance - particularly without indices. This renders most of the
tarots sold in the UK and the US high streets useless for playing games
with.
Fortunately for us today, the internet has made possible niche stores that
import goods, and a whole global market place with international ship-
ping.
Ill start by talking about some of the internet sources for cards and will
then list a number of packs that I would recommend as suitable for
gaming. If you visit the web site for this text: www.tarocchino.com you
will find some links and more reviews of packs, along with some
galleries for you to get a better look at what you might be buying.
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Where to shop?
While the internet has opened a global market, you will still need to
consider both currency fluctuations and postage in deciding where to
buy from.
Here in Europe, there are three stores that I buy from.
The first is well known on both sides of the Atlantic,
www.playingcardsales.com is was formerly in Edinburough and is now
based in France. The site is all in English and the prices are all in UK
sterling, everything is well categorized and easily found. This is, with-
out doubt, the single most comprehensive supplier of playing cards
anywhere and provides a high standard of service. If you are looking for
regional cards and the French suited tarot/tarock packs, then this is your
first port of call. There is a choice of postage options I usually pay the
little extra and get the goods within about 5 days.
The second site is www.alidastores.com which is based in San Marino.
There are very few 54 card packs here - the emphasis is on tarot and
most of the packs are of the occult variety. However, the stock is
impressive and if you want modern Italian suited cards, then this is your
first stop. There is also a large range of reproduction cards and collecta-
bles here, including some of the rarer limited editions. The information
about the cards is rather concise and there are fewer images of the cards,
sometimes only one or two are shown. The dispatch is next/same day
and delivery is five working days later - without fail!
Ill also add about both of these stores, that they package their goods
with care for their journey. However battered the parcel may get, the
cards and their boxes are always in perfect condition.
The third site that I use is eBay. This can be a hit or miss affair. There
are a couple of stores that I use regularly but for one-offs I recommend
caution. What a trader calls rare or collectable, often isnt - check other
internet sources first for information and prices. Always take note of the
postage price 25 euros to post a pack of cards from France to the UK
just isnt on. There are few real bargains here but this is the best source
for some of the Asian packs that you might want and for one or two
European packs, such as the Hungarian Ludvig.
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It is also worth checking Amazon, they only really stock cards for
readers but they do sometimes have something nice.
If you are in the US, then the two stores in Europe can be more
expensive, depending on the exchange rate.
Besides the previously mentioned eBay, there are three options availa-
ble to you:
The first and most comprehensive for the game player is
www.tarobearslair.com this store has been set up by another tarot
game enthusiast. He has worked hard to import a range of regional
packs, including all of the Italian suited ones. He is Carte Frances only
US importer, and stocks an impressive range of French Tarot packs,
from the most basic to the gilt edged and solidly boxed editions. There
is also a good range of 54 card tarocks and Im happy to say that he is
now importing the French titled Swiss 1JJ, one of my favorites. He has
a lot of ambitions for this site, so it is one to keep an eye on!
The second is www.tarock.net which is an excellent source for the 54
card tarock packs, they also stock a smaller number of French 78 card
packs.
The third is www.tarotgarden.com which specializes in imported and
rare packs, it has an extensive collection with a selection of images from
every pack. Tarot Garden also makes for an excellent source of informa-
tion about packs past and present. However, they rarely seem to have
game packs in stock.
What Cards Should I Buy?
The complete modern game players collection will have:
A 78 card Jeu de Tarot - a standard French suited pack
A 54 card Tarock - another French suited pack
A Tarocco Peidmontese - a 78 card Italian suited pack
A Tarocco Bolognese - the tarocchino
A Tarocco Siciliano
However, all of the games in parts I-III can be played with any pack of
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78 cards, consisting of four regular suites each of 10 pip cards and four
court cards; a fifth suit of trumps numbered 1-21; and an extra un-
numbered card called a Fool, Excuse, Skus, or some variation thereof.
Jeu de Tarot
The game of tarot is very popular in France and there is a range of
standard facing packs at a range of prices. The images on them are all
alike, having standard French suits and double ended trumps that feature
a range of rural and domestic scenes. Of course, there have been a range
of novelty and art packs produced, from Asterix for the children to
Druuna for the adults.
One of the nicest packs readily available is the Tarot of the Regions of
France, which features rather more rustic trump scenes and court cards
showing traditional costumes.
If you want something a little bit special, then I recommend the Taroc-
chi di Alan. This is not widely available now and I suspect that stocks
are dwindling - so if you want a copy, dont wait too long to buy. The
Alan of the title has no claim to the cards at all, hes a fortune teller who
picked up on an attractive but long forgotten pack and got it re-printed
with a booklet by himself. The joke is on him though, as he seems quite
unaware of French suited cards or their use in games, attempting to
force occult interpretations onto the designs that just dont fit. Still, we
mustnt get too upset - because of him, the pack was re-printed. The
cards were actually designed at the beginning of the 20
th
century by
Italian artist Argio Orell. The court cards feature figures from different
cultures and the trumps are some of the most beautiful nouveau designs
you will see.
If the Bell poque style of the Orell appeals to you, then also look for
the Tarot des Fleurs, published by Dusserre it is a reproduction of a
beautiful 1910 pack featuring flowers on the trumps.
Tarock packs
These 54 card packs are again available at a range of prices but with
little variation in design. They look much like the French packs, though
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the designs are more baroque. However, central European countries
seem to take their games rather more seriously, as they dont publish
any novelty packs or variations. You can, however, find a number of
attractive reproductions of older packs which are a pleasure to play with.
Reproduction Packs
Although modern occult packs are much easier for tarot readers to use,
having pictures for the pips as aid memoirs, there has been a strong
market in reproduction packs with the old designs and pips. These older
packs were usually designed with game play in mind but players are
probably only a small part of the demand for them. There are many
occult tarotists who prefer the older designs but I suspect that the greater
demand comes from collectors. Tarot collecting is a bug that affects
many occult tarotists and game players alike - take care not to get bitten
yourself, as it will cost you a lot of money!
Il Meneghello publishes the biggest range of reproduction packs, usual-
ly as limited editions and can be quite costly. They are not always
suitable for play however as the card stock, while strong, is a little
inflexible, the surfaces are not varnished, and the corners are square,
reducing their durability. The presentation is beautiful and they are a
pleasure to play with, so you if you become an enthusiast, you will want
to buy some for occasional play at least. As I write this, Il Meneghello
publishes the only Minchiate in print.
Lo Scarabeo, one of the biggest occult tarot publishers, publishes a few
reproduction packs. Some of these are marred by multilingual borders
but there are a couple that you might want to look for. The Ancient
Tarots of Lombardy is a beautiful 19
th
century pack that is an easy size
to handle. However, the card stock is rigid and unvarnished, so they will
not be very durable. The Ancient Italian Tarot is a late 19
th
century pack
that is probably the more attractive of the two, in 2000 it had a re-issue
with a much better card stock and varnished surface, making it very
durable for play. There are still copies of the old issue around, so make
sure that you buy the one with a dark green box.
Dal Negro publish the I Tarocchini which is a Bolognese pack by
Gioseppe Mitelli, pre-dating the introduction of the four moors. They
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are a little large but the presentation and colouring are beautiful. If
youre confident that you know your trumps (they are neither named nor
numbered) and love the tarocchino games, then this is a pack for you.
Modern Packs
The modern Piedmontese pack is one of the easiest to use, the cards
being all numbered and double ended. However, the double ending is
achieved by chopping the trump image in half and repeating it top and
bottom. People often feel that this takes something of the charm away
and so turn to reproduction packs instead. However, although most are
made with illustrated pips, there are still some modern cards produced
for the tarotist market, that are suitable for game play.
The Swiss 1JJ is very widely available and is used in Switzerland for
playing Troccas and Troggu. It is quite traditional in design and very
attractive. This has long been a favourite of mine.
Fournier publish Le Tarot De Marseille which uses traditional Marseille
images, familiar in reproductions, and gives them a modern colouring.
The result is clear and very attractive. They are traditional without
looking very occult and have an advantage for beginners in that the
regular suits have different background colours to distinguish them.
Very often I have known beginners to confuse swords and batons but
with the colours, that isnt going to happen here.
The Hungarian Ludvig Tarot was produced for the International Playing
Card Association in 1996. The only place I know of to buy it is from a
Hungarian trader on eBay - the price is low and the dispatch very fast!
The pack uses simple drawings that look very traditional but have a
somewhat rustic feel to them - perhaps its the colours, perhaps the style.
It is a subtle difference that makes the cards very attractive to me and a
pleasure to play with.
The Tarocchi Di Giulietta E Romeo (Romeo and Juliet - also called the
Shakespeare Tarot) is published by Dal Negro and created by Luigi
Scapini. It comes in two sizes, one is very large with gold but is not
really suitable for game play, so you want to consider the smaller edition.
These are wonderful for game play, taking Shakespeares plays as their
theme, they still manage to look fairly traditional and not at all occult.
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The pip cards are partly illustrated but never enough to be distracting
and the text appears painted - which is so much nicer than the usual
intrusive typefaces.
The Tarot Favole is a new pack published by Fournier, as I write this it
has not yet worked its way into the usual stores - I had to order mine
from a German site. I should think that it will become more widely
available very soon though. Anyone who enjoys the modern gothic
vampire will want this pack that showcases the art of Victoria Frances.
The artwork was not created especially for the cards but has been taken
from her existing portfolio, however, it all fits the requirements for tarot.
The pip cards are a little novel, being crosses, roses, butterflies, and
masks - their execution is perhaps a little half-hearted but they look
good none the less and serve well for game play. Like other Fournier
packs, they are of a smaller, comfortable size, and sport a reasonable
price-tag of around 12.
Il Tarocco Bizzarro, published by Dal Negro, is an entertaining pack
based on the Piedmontese packs. Artist Franco Bruna has given the
cards a comic twist that should appeal to young and old alike.
Tarot is not something we tend to think of as an Asian phenomenon but
Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan produce a large number of different tarot
packs - often in the cartoon like style of Manga. Some of the art is
simply stunning and among these are a couple of Taiwanese examples
that have un-illustrated pips. In both cases, they follow only the themes
and are not at all traditional. If there is anything that will make them
awkward to use, it is that the court cards are not clearly distinguished by
their appearance - but this is a very minor quibble. Availability is
limited, but there are a couple of eBay stores that are very reliable. The
cards themselves are not very costly but postage from the US or Taiwan
will double the price to about 20 but of course, this is variable with
the exchange rate.
The first is usually called The Tarots Numen Fairy Deck. The images
are fairies, but Asian styled rather than western twee. The second is the
Dezhen Chinese tarot, sometimes called the Chinese Ladies tarot. This
pack has also been published by Lo Scarebo but their multilingual
borders get in the way for card play, so I recommend getting the
Taiwanese edition.
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Appendix II
Glossary
Ace: This is the pip card numbered 1 in a regular suit and usually
abbreviated to A.
Angel: Also called the Judgement and traditionally numbered 20, how-
ever, in Italian games this card outranks the Mond (XXI of trumps) as
the highest trump and Honour.
Bagatto: see the Pagat
Bidding: The bidding round is sometimes called an auction. Players
evaluate their hands and decide if they want to bid to be Declarer,
playing against all the other players. While the risks are greater for a
Declarer, the rewards for winning are much greater also. Games with a
bidding round can be played in different ways of varying difficulty for
Declarer to win. The harder the type of play bid for, the higher the stakes
in game points. The player that bids to play the hardest type is Declarer.
Birds: Some countries, where the French suited cards are used, have the
tradition of naming the four lowest trumps as birds. The Pagat was
sometimes called the Sparrow, the II is called the Owl or Eagle Owl, the
III is called the Cockatoo, Pelikan or Canary, and the IV is called the
Marabou (an African Stork), or Bearded Vulture. In Hungary, the II is
known as the Eagle, this may be the original name (the Austrian designs
feature an eagle on that card). In Hungary, the penultimate trick is called
the Owl, as there is a bonus for winning this with the II, it may have
given its name to the card.
Bouts: see the Honours
Black Suits: These are the Spades and Clubs. Their equivalents in other
patterns are Swords and Batons, Leaves and Acorns, Shields and
Acorns. Swords and Batons are sometimes called Long Suits but this
term usually has a different meaning, so Ill stick to calling them Black
Suits.
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Card Points: Points won from the cards in your trick pile, it is these that
count towards winning.
Cockatoo: A name given to the III of trumps.
Contras: Not all games have this feature and those that do, implement
it a little differently. After the bidding round, each player will have the
chance to double the stakes by calling contra, they can also re-contra to
double again. Re-contra will usually have a limit, often ending with a
call of sub-contra. This can increase the points won or lost considerably,
so if you are playing for money, you might want to limit this or disallow
altogether.
Counting Cards: Any cards that carry a value of 2 or more points.
Counting the Card Points: Tarots counting is notoriously odd. There
are a number of different methods used by the different games and
contrary to appearances they will, for the most part, give the same
results. I have listed the methods to be used with each game but have
tried to create some consistency between them and used the simplest
methods available.
Court Cards: There are four court cards in each of the four plain suits,
they are named and ranked King, Queen, Cavalier ( a rider / horseman),
and Valet. Of course, different nations have different names for some of
them and their cards will have indices for those names for example,
French Kings will have an R for Roi.
Cutting the Cards: With the pack on the table, lift two or three piles
from it and then stack them together in a different order. Sometimes
cutting the cards is not done as a part of shuffling but to randomly reveal
a card - in this case, part of the pack is lifted and the card revealed in the
lifted part is selected. This may be done to select first Dealer, partners,
or, in non tarot games, this is sometimes to select a trump suit.
Dealer and the Deal: The first Dealer is chosen at random, sometimes
by cutting the cards, after that, the deal moves to the right. Dealer
shuffles and Dealers left cuts the cards, then Dealer hands out the cards
deals them to the players starting with his/her right.
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Declarer: Many Tarot games involve one player, Declarer, playing
against all the other players. Declarer is usually decided by a round of
bidding.
Defenders: These are the players working as a team to prevent Declarer
winning the game.
Deuce: This is the pip card numbered 2 in a regular suit.
Doubleton: If you have just two cards of a suit, they are called a
doubleton.
Eagle: In Hungary, this is the name given to the II of trump and may
have been its original name.
Eldest: This is the player to Dealers right. Sometimes known as fore-
hand.
Empty Card: This is any card that only carries 1 point, or sometimes
no points.
Fool: Also unique to tarot but not originally a trump. This card is often
called the Excuse or some derivative thereof and can be played at
any time to avoid playing a card that the rules would otherwise require
be played. However, there are many games, mostly central European, in
which this card is used not as an excuse, but as the highest trump. If, as
an excuse, it is led to a trick, then the suit for other players to follow is
set by the second player, who may play any card. Usually, the only time
that the Fool, when used as an excuse, can be won is when a slam is
being played, that is when a player wins all the tricks in a game.
Game: A game usually consists of as many hands as there are players.
For example, if playing a tarot for three players, then a complete game
will consist of three hands being dealt and played, with each player
taking one turn to deal.
Game Points: Points that you win from other players, these may be
affected by the number of card points that you win and, for gamblers,
translate to money.
Hand: The cards dealt to a player are known as his/her hand. A round
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of play, as part of a game is also called a hand.
Hanged Man: A card misnamed by French card makers. It traditionally
shows a man suspended by one foot and has struck many as mysterious.
However, in Italy, it was known as the Traitor because thats how they
executed traitors, they were suspended by one foot and left to die slowly
and publicly.
Hermit: A card misnamed by French card makers. The naming error
followed from the copying error showing the figure of an old man
holding a lantern. However, this was originally an hour glass and the
figure was Old Father Time.
Honours: These cards are also called the Bouts or Oudlers in the French
game, the Trull in some others. They are the Fool, the Pagat, and the
Mond. They are always among the highest scoring cards in the game. In
some Italian games, the Angel often replaces the Mond as both the
highest trump and honour.
Irrational Ranking: This is something unfamiliar to most people in
English speaking countries but quite common in continental Europe.
The black suits rank normally but the red suits rank K, Q, C, V, 1, 2, 3,
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. It seems like an odd quirk but is common to most tarot
games and easy enough to get used to. As the pip cards are of low value,
it tends to make little practical difference.
Judgement: see Angel
Kakadu: see Cockatoo
Long Suit: If you have a large number of cards in a given suit, it is
called a long suit.
Long Suits: A name used for the Latin suits of Batons and Swords.
Marias Rule: You probably wont find this in any rule book, it was a
rule given to me by an old friend from Spain. Her rule is that the cards
should not be shuffled between hands - only cut. The reasoning was that
we got more interesting hands that way. And so we did! However, be
warned that this is not such a good method for those games where the
deal involves packets of more than three or four.
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Marabou: A name given to the IV of trumps it is a black African stork.
Matto: see the Fool
Minchiate: A Florentine pack featuring some extra trumps to total 97
cards. Once very popular, spreading beyond Italy as far afield as New
Orleans.
Mond: This is the 21 of trumps it is the world card. It is worth noting
that in some Italian games, the Angel (usually numbered 20) ranks as
highest trump instead.
Name of the Game: Although the family of games is often referred to
as tarot, only the French call it that. In Italy, where the cards were
invented, it is called tarocchi. There are other names throughout the
world though, such as: tarock, tarokk, taroky, troccas, ottocento, and
cego.
Order of Play: Tarot, like a number of European games, is played
counter-clockwise.
Oudlers: see the Honours
Owl: Commonly the game given to the II of trumps but also to the
penultimate trick.
Packets: In most tarot games, cards are not dealt singly but 2 or more
cards at a time - these are called packets.
Pagat: This is the 1 of trumps, the hardest to keep from losing and
because of this it carries a high point value. There is often a special
bonus for winning the last trick with the Pagat called the Pagat Ultimo.
Pip Cards: These are the cards numbered 1-10 in the regular suits.
Some of these cards may be omitted in some games, usually to make a
54 card pack. They are sometimes called spot cards.
Rationalized Ranking: All the regular suits rank K, Q, C, V, 10, 9, 8,
7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Red Suits: These are the Hearts and Diamonds. Their equivalents in
other patterns are Cups and Coins, Hearts and Bells, Roses and Bells.
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They are sometimes called the Round Suits but for continuity, Ill stick
to Red Suits.
Round Suits: A name used for the Latin suits of Cups and Coins.
Scart: A discard pile. Many games involve a player taking the cards in
the stock into his/her hand and then discarding an equal number of cards
into a scart. These cards will often be counted towards a players or a
teams tricks but are not added to their trick pile until the hand has been
played.
Singleton: If you have just one card of a suit, it is called singleton.
Short Suit: If you have only a small number of cards in a given suit, it
is called a short suit.
Sparrow: An old name for the Pagat (I of trumps).
Stock: In many games a number of cards are dealt to the table as a stock.
These cards are sometimes called the Talon, or the Chien. These cards
will often be counted towards a players or a teams tricks but are not
added to their trick pile until the hand has been played.
Suits: A suit is a sub-set of a pack of cards sharing a theme. In
traditional playing cards there are four suits. The earliest suits in Europe
are the Italian ones of Swords, Batons, Cups, and Coins. The popular
French suits are Spades, Clubs, Hearts, and Diamonds. Other nations
have also experimented with suit designs. In Germany, though mostly
just in the South these days, there are Leaves, Acorns, Hearts, and Bells.
The Swiss have the Jass pack of Shields, Acorns, Bells, and Roses.
Tarocchi: The later and modern name of the games in Italy. The
singular is Tarocco. It may have come from the old Italian vernacular
Tarocus, meaning to play the fool.
Tarocchino: The name sometimes given to the Tarocco Bolognese, due
to its reduced size.
Tarocco: The singular of Tarocchi.
Tarocco Bolognese: The tarot pack unique to Bologna, sometimes
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called the Tarocchino. It has an unusual arrangement of trumps that
includes the Four Moors, equally ranking trumps that replaced the II-IV.
Traitor: see Hanged Man
Trick, playing to: Declarer (or, if the game does not have a Declarer,
then eldest) begins by playing a card face up in the middle of the table.
This is called leading to the trick. The suit of the first card played is the
suit that has been led. Each player in turn, moving to the right, must play
another card of the same suit, this is called following suit. If they cannot
follow suit, then they must play a trump. If they can neither follow suit
nor play a trump, then they may play any card though it cannot win.
The highest card played of the suit led, wins the trick unless a trump has
been played, in which case the highest trump wins it. The player, who
won the trick, takes the cards, places them face down beside him/her to
form a trick pile and leads to the next trick. (if playing in a team, those
players keep a joint trick pile)
Trionfi: The oldest name for the cards and the game they were used for.
It means triumphs in reference to the trumps theme, a Christian triumph
procession. It is also the origin of our word trump.
Trumps: These are the fifth suit of cards unique to tarot, when played
they beat any card of the other suits.
Ultimo: The ultimo is the last trick of a hand and there is often a bonus
for winning this with the Pagat - called the Pagat Ultimo - which is
harder than you might realise.
Uhu: see Owl
Void Suit: If you have no cards of a given suit, it is called a void suit.
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Appendix III
Creating and Changing Tarot Games
What makes a game a tarot game? Is it enough that it is played with tarot
cards? There is a strong feeling that perhaps it isnt. Many of us will
have heard of folk playing solitaire, rummy, or even poker with tarot
cards but there is a feeling that that doesnt quite qualify them. This
feeling comes from these games not having been derived from the
existing tradition. Many new games have developed over the years,
sometimes piecemeal from adding or modifying rules here and there
until a regional variation becomes a regional game. Sometimes these
new games have come from adding a greater innovation to an existing
game, sometimes something original or more often something drawn
from another game this is how bidding found its way into tarot from
hombre.
Whether you think that there is some important difference between a
tarot game or a game that happens to be played with tarot cards is not
really important. The cards and all of these games are now yours, they
were the moment you read and played them. Widely agreed rules are
only a requirement for tournament play but beyond that you are free to
do with them as you will all that is important is that the game plays
well and that all players are agreed upon the rules. (Games of Go Johnny
Go-Go-Go-Go are not going to win you friends)
As youve read this book, you may well have been struck by some rules
in particular or by some bids and wondered how they would play out in
other games if this is the case, then try them out.
Here is an example of how you might go about things. It was inspired
by a variation on the 17
th
century French game in which swords were a
secondary suit of trumps. Sadly, this innovation was never developed
and with little information about how it was played, it had become little
more than a footnote in tarot history. However, I felt that it was an idea
worth exploring and expanding upon, with great potential for bidding.
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Having a second suit of trumps will have a different influence on play
with a 54 card pack than it will with a full 78 cards. I liked the idea of
competitive bidding, so I've opted for a 78 card pack - you can use either
Italian or French suited cards. The idea is to bid for a trump scheme
which may (or may not) nominate a regular suit to act as an additional
trump suit. The possible trump schemes all rank equally and it is likely
that as many as three players will have a strong hand to play as declarer,
depending upon the scheme played. To outbid others, players must
contract to win a higher number of card points these two elements,
along with some compulsory declarations, give the other players infor-
mation about a bidders hand.
Overtrumps
The Cards
A full 78 card pack using irrational ranking.
Cards are counted in groups of 3, subtracting 2 point for each full group
or 1 point for an odd card or pair. This means that there are 78 cards in
the pack.
Deal
Dealer's left cuts the pack. Players are then dealt 19 cards each in a
single round, with dealer taking 21 and discarding 3 cards. The discards
may not include Kings or Honours and will count towards Dealer's
tricks at the end.
Kings & Honours 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All others 1 points
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Bidding
Players may now bid in turn, starting with Eldest, to be Declarer playing
against the other three, who shall work as a team. Bidding continues
until three players pass in a single round, players may not make a bid
after they have passed.
It is quite possible that in any given hand up to three players may have
strong enough hands to bid for one of the four trump schemes. Bidding
can, therefore, become quite competitive by raising the number of
points required to win the game. Also, with so many making bids
according to their hands strengths and possibly making declarations
also, a great deal of information can be released into play.
Because of the way the trump schemes work, a penalty round, often
played in tarot games if no one bids, is not meaningful. So, if there are
no bidders, the hand is thrown in and deal moves to the next player.
A bid may be made of up to three different parts...
Trumps
There are four possible opening bids, all four rank equally but can be
strengthened by adding Bid Points to the bid.
Tarocchi: Only the regular trump suit work as trumps.
No Trumps: Trumps lose their power to trump other suits, though the
usual rules of play still apply.
Over-trump: The bidder names one of the regular suits to be Over-
trumps. If played to a trick, these work as trumps and will beat even the
regular trumps. Normal rules of play still apply.
Under-trump: The bidder names one of the regular suits to be Under-
trumps. If played to a trick, these will work as trumps but will not beat
a regular trump played to the same trick. Normal rules of play still apply.
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Bid Points
A basic bid can be further strengthened by adding Bid Points. To win a
hand, Declarer must win 20 points or more, Bid Points are announced
in a multiple of 5 and represent the number of additional points that the
Declarer contracts to make. Alternatively, if Declarer's hand is strong
enough, then this may be announced as a Slam, contracting to win all
tricks - bidding ends when a Slam in announced. This allows players to
fully exploit a good hand and can inject a good deal of competition in
the bidding.
Announcements
The value of the bid may be improved by making an announcement.
This way, two players may bid the same number of points, with one bid
outranking the other from the addition of an announcement. It is legal
to make more than one announcement. Should two players bid the same
number of points and make more than one announcement each, then the
announcements with the highest combined point value win the bid.
They rank from the lowest:
Capture Half Kings: contracts to win at least 3 Kings in tricks (5 points)
Capture Full Kings: contracts to win all Kings in tricks (5 points)
Capture Pagat : contracts to win the pagat in tricks (5 points)
Pagat Ultimo: contracts to win the last trick with the pagat (10 points)
Owl: contracts to win the second to last trick with the II of trumps
(10 points)
Cockatoo: contracts to win the third to last trick with the III of trumps
(10 points)
Marabou: contracts to win the fourth to last trick with the IV of trumps
(10 points)
When overbid, an announcement becomes void but can be repeated as
part of a higher bid.
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Declarations
These are not a part of a bid per se but if a player does bid, then these
are compulsory if they can be made. Declarations are made with the bid.
eg. 40 with Spades Overtrumps, Capture Half Kings, declaring Full
Kings and a Half Court.
Full Court: player holds all three court cards of a single suit (not named)
Half Court: Player holds three court cards of a single suit (not named)
Full Kings: player holds all four Kings
Half Kings: player holds 3 Kings
Honours: player holds all three Honours
Abundant Trumps: player holds 10 or more regular trumps
Long Suit: player holds 8 or more cards of a regular suit (not named)
Play
Declarer leads to the first trick and players, in turn, must follow suit if
they can. If they cannot, then they must play a trump (a regular trump,
not an over or under trump). If they can do neither, then they may play
any card - which may include over or under trumps. The Fool is played
as an excuse and exchanged for an empty card, but it may be taken if it
is played to the last trick.
Scores
A hand scores for each card point won by Declarer over or below 20 +
Bid Points + points for any announcement. If all parts of the bid were
made, then Declarer scores these points from each of the defenders. If
any part of the bid was failed, then Declarer pays these points to each of
the defenders.
Notes
Players may think it odd to have both overtrump and undertrump bids
available. However, when making a bid for one of these schemes the
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player must consider the likelihood of their trumps getting overtrumped
by another suit.
Of course, 20 points is a very low threshold for winning and a very
mediocre hand could win such a basic bid the object however, is to
encourage more than one player to enter bidding and so maximise the
information revealed before play.
Also, it can pay to make a low bid to start with, working up to a higher
bid to take the game. Although it is in a players interest to win with the
best bid for the hand, in order to maximise the game points won, if a
high bid is made from the start, then other players may not attempt a bid
themselves, thus denying you any information about their hand which
the bid might have revealed.
In Closing
If you have created a great variation or a new game entirely, then please,
dont keep it to yourself. There is my own forum at
www.tarocchino.com where you can post the rules and I will be happy
to start posting some of these onto the sites main pages. Also, consider
sending them to John McLeod at www.pagat.com where he also makes
original games available.
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Appendix IV
Bibliography and Internet References
These books and web sites have provided me with the material to write
this text. In addition to these, the German Wikipedia entry for Royal
Tarokk provided the initial material for that chapter, though I made
alterations to my initial account from Dummett/McLeod.
I would encourage anyone who has discovered an interest in these
games to explore these books if they can.
The Game of Tarot
by Michael Dummett with the assistance of Sylvia Mann
Duckworth 1980 ISBN 0 7156 10147
This book only saw one printing and is now much in demand, some-
times fetching high prices on eBay auctions. However, keep you eyes
open and you can find a bargain. It is the most comprehensive book
published about tarot, tracing the history of the games, the cards them-
selves, their designs, and even the occult use.
A History of Games played with the Tarot Pack
Volumes One & Two
By Michael Dummett and John McLeod
Edwin Mellen Press 2004
Volume One ISBN 0 7734 6447 6
Volume Two ISBN 0 7734 6449 2
Supplement Maproom Publications 2009 ISBN 978 0 9562370 0 2
Edwin Mellen Press is an academic publisher that specializes in supply-
ing academic libraries and their web site states that they expect to sell
only about 500 copies of a book in its lifetime. Consequently, these are
not widely available and are very costly. These volumes serve to update
and expand the work on the card games and their development given in
The Game of Tarot. Although the work is limited to just this part of
tarots history, there is no more substantial source of tarot games in the
English Language - or quite possibly, any language.
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The first supplement to this work has now been published and is only
available from the associated website www.tarotgame.org where it can
also be downloaded without charge in pdf format. It includes a few
corrections, usually expanding on the original text with new informa-
tion, along with some significant new games including some of those
played in the United States.
A Wicked Pack of Cards
By Ronald Decker, Thierry Depaulis & Michael Dummett
St Martins Press 1996 ISBN 0 312 16294 4
This is the first of two books to take up the task of expanding on the
history of the occult tarot, which had a fairly detailed but still limited
chapter in The Game of Tarot. This book limits itself to the first hundred
years of occult tarot, beginning with Antoine Court de Gabelin at the
end of the 18th century. This is essential reading if you want to under-
stand where these beliefs came from and how the developed, not to
mention just why they were so very wrong. It seems to be a little harder
to obtain in the US than in the UK but you shouldnt have too much
trouble getting a copy at a reasonable price.
A History of the Occult Tarot 1870-1970
By Ronald Decker and Michael Dummett
Duckworth 2002 ISBN 0 7156 3122 5
This book picks up the story where the last one left off, showing how the
the occult tarot spread beyond France and throughout the English
speaking world until the all English speakers knew by tarot was the
occult and fortune telling. Once again, history is essential for under-
standing why we are where we are and just what went wrong. Together
with the previous volume, this book pulls the rug from beneath accounts
of the occult tarot leaving us with a pack of playing cards. More easily
available than the previous book and you can often get it for a cheap
price.
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The Penguin Book of Card Games
By David Parlett
Penguin 2008 ISBN-10: 0141037873 ISBN-13: 978-0141037875
Previously published in 2000 as the Penguin Encyclopedia of Card
Games, this is an essential book and the only mainstream title that I
know of to include the rules for tarot games. Without doubt, David
Parlett is the best of all writers on card games, providing the rules with
clarity, detail, authority, and an enthusiasm for his subject. Every family
should have a book of card games - make this one yours. You will never
need another. As regards the inclusion of tarot, there are a number of
games, including some simple Italian ones, the ever popular French
game, and best of all my favourite, Ottocento.
www.pagat.com
This web site, maintained by John McLeod, is the single largest resource
for card games on the inter-net. It includes a large number of tarot
games along with some detailed strategy notes by experienced players.
Like the other books listed here, the games are given with their original
language terms.
www.trionfi.com
This site is dedicated to exploring the history of tarot and includes an
enormous museum of card images to illustrate it. You can lose many
happy hours here!
www.tarotforum.net
These are the forums for the Aeclectic Tarot web site. Although the
focus is on the occult tarot and fortune telling, there is a history section
frequented by a few very knowledgeable people. Consequently, there
are many posts here that include some new finding on the history of the
cards and the games that have helped inform this text.
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http://a_pollett.tripod.com
This is the site of Andys Playing Cards. Well known on the inter-net for
its illustrated history of playing cards, including tarot.
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Appendix V
The Availability of this Text
and Permissions to Reproduce it
This text will be made available in a number of forms. On the associated
web site www.tarocchino.com it will be available for viewing on web
pages. Also, it will be available in a number of pdf downloads, typeset
for home printing and as a Microsoft Word Document.
You can find it available in book form with a not-for-profit price. That
is, you will only be paying the printers and the postage and not me.
The goal of this project is to promote the games of tarot and to that end
I want to give some permission for people to reproduce this text.
You may reproduce the text for personal use and non-commercial
distribution, in whole or in part, under the following conditions.
1. The text is unaltered or, if altered, your alterations and/or additions
are clearly marked as such.
2. You include a link/reference to the associated web site
www.tarocchino.com
3. The text may not be reproduced alongside or in the context of
anything illegal or that would be widely considered offensive.
So, if you want to print booklets of your favourite games to give to
family and friends, no problem. If you want to make printings available
for a club at cost price, thats fine. If you want to include rules to some
games on your web site, go for it. You may reproduce and distribute the
text in a commercial context (such as a commercial web site) if that
distribution is free of charge or condition, such as supplying personal
information, and is limited only by supply, such as bandwidth or leaflets
printed.
Enjoy the games and spread the word.